Monday, 11 May 2020 13:09

56M Takata Inflators Won't Be Recalled

Written by David A. Wood, Car Complaints


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has decided about 56 million Takata airbag inflators won't be recalled as planned, a decision which quickly got the attention of safety advocates.

About 19 automakers won't be forced to replace the Takata airbag inflators after an independent company studied the lifespan of airbag inflators equipped with chemical drying agents.


An independent aerospace company associated with Northrop Grumman tested the desiccated inflators to simulate 30 years of aging and allegedly found no problems. Investigators did find the heat and humidity of Florida may decrease the lifespan of the inflators and vehicles in that state will need to be monitored more closely.


Takata was supposed to recall up to 56 million airbag inflators by the end of 2019 unless the company could prove the airbags were safe. Unlike most of the deaths and injuries caused by Takata inflators, the newest inflators contain drying agents called dessicants.


Researchers determined dozens of people were killed and hundreds were injured because of a chemical called ammonium nitrate. The chemical is used to create what should be a small explosion to deploy the airbags.


But the ammonium nitrate, contained in metal airbag inflators, is volatile when the inflators age and moisture enters the inflators. Instead of protecting occupants in crash impacts, the Takata inflators violently explode even in the smallest fender-benders.


In addition to Takata, 10 automakers performed tests on the dessicated inflators and found no problems other than with certain Volkswagen Passats and Beetles equipped with inflators that could go bad in four years. Those vehicles will be recalled by the end of 2020.


NHTSA says all other inflators "do not pose risk to safety in the coming years," but the agency will monitor the components for evidence of degradation.


Auto safety organization Center for Auto Safety (CAS) says federal safety regulators "waited until the middle of a global pandemic to take the most hands-off of next steps."


"[T]he National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reinforced its total lack of interest in most basic parts of their mission: overseeing recalls, undertaking independent research not requested by industry and sharing vital safety information with the public," said CAS.

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