NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Millions of drivers have been impacted by an expanded recall over defective air bags.
A total of 33.8 million cars and trucks have been recalled by Takata Corp., making it the largest of its kind in history. CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration made the announcement Tuesday afternoon.
“This is probably the most complex consumer safety recall in U.S. history,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
Many of Takata’s air bags can explode violently, sending metal fragments flying into the passenger compartment.
As CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, slow-motion video captured some of the recalled airbags rupturing. Like a grenade exploding, shrapnel was seen flying in the driver’s direction – in some cases causing death and serious injuries.
“Up until now, Takata has refused to acknowledge that their airbags are defective,” Foxx said. “That changes today.”
When Danny Marmo got into an accident, the airbag in his 2013 Honda Pilot deployed and left him injured.
“The airbag kind of left me with a permanent mark on my hand,” he said.
It could have been worse for Marmo.
“I’m thankful for airbags,” he said. “I’m thankful for seat belts. They help us save our lives.”
But the flaw is believed to be the cause of six deaths and more than 100 injuries.
The Japanese air bag manufacturer had previously refused to acknowledge its air bag inflaters were defective until now, arguing that the problems were limited to humid regions, Sanchez reported.
But after months of pushing, Foxx said airbag manufacturer Takata is giving in to the record setting recall.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, believes moisture from humidity leaks into the airbag inflator, changing the properties of the chemical used to inflate the bags. When that happens, the explosive force can rupture the metal – sending shrapnel flying through the vehicle.
Why that is happening during the explosion is not clear.
“Takata still has not identified the root cause of the defect, but we cannot let that delay,” Foxx said.
The goal now is simple: “That every American who is at risk has a safe air bag in their vehicle as rapidly as possible,” added Mark Rosekind, with the National Highway Safety Administration.
On Tuesday, the NHTSA said it could be days before it knows all the vehicles affected. But 10 major automakers — BMW, Fiat, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota — have already issued recalls for approximately 17 million vehicles in the United States and more than 36 million around the world.
Takata’s announcement on Tuesday is expected virtually to double the number of vehicles recalled to nearly 34 million. Many drivers on Tuesday were still unaware that there is even a potential problem.
“I’m definitely going to Google and find out what’s going on,” said Toyota owner Danny Marmo.
“I haven’t gotten any letters. I haven’t gotten any notices. This is the first I hear about it,” said Grace Ojeda, a Honda owner. “Definitely, I will call my Honda tomorrow.”
Affected car owners are urged to bring their vehicle to the dealership immediately.
“You’re going to have to check the VIN number. There’s information available at the National Highway Safety Administration that points to the vehicles that are having problems,” explained Robert Sinclair, with AAA.
Sinclair urged drivers to take the recall very seriously and contact their dealerships.
“It’s very important that if you check to make sure that your vehicle,” Sinclair said. “If it is one of these that you can have that airbag checked and replaced.”
If you like to check your VIN number to see if it’s part of the recall, click here.