Flawed Takata Air Bags In 34 Million Vehicles Lead To Biggest Recall In History

(Washington Post:  Published 05/19/2015, Harwell, Drew, Web)

Nearly 34 million cars and trucks nationwide were declared defective on the 19th of May because of deadly air bags made by auto-parts giant Takata, in what is expected to be the biggest recall of any consumer product in U.S. history.  The expanded recall doubled the number of vehicles believed to have the air bags, which can blast out sharp metal shrapnel when deployed, a flaw that has been linked to six deaths and more than 100 injuries.  It could be days before vehicle owners hear from automakers about whether their models are covered by the recall, officials said, and analysts expect that it could take years for all the defective cars to get the needed repairs.

In the meantime, millions who drive some of the most popular models from BMW, Ford, Honda, Toyota and other carmakers could remain behind the wheel with a defect that lawmakers have deemed a “public safety threat.”  “How long is this going to take? Nobody knows that yet,” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief Mark Rosekind said Tuesday, referring to the recall process.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx added that it was “probably the most complex consumer safety recall in U.S. history.”

Federal officials said years of humid weather, along with other factors, could cause the propellant in driver- and passenger-side air-bag inflaters to burn hotter than it should, leading to shard-blasting ruptures that Takata blamed on “over-aggressive combustion.”  But an investigation by Takata, automakers and independent researchers has yet to point to a definitive cause behind the ruptures, leading safety advocates to worry that replacement parts could have the same fatal flaw.

Federal officials said they did not yet know exactly which makes and models were covered in the recall. Nearly a dozen automakers, including Honda, Toyota and Ford, have already recalled 17 million potentially defective vehicles across the United States and more than 36 million worldwide.  But Takata bitterly resisted an expanded recall for months, opting to limit the effort to humid regions where high moisture levels worsened the defect. Early recalls, Takata said, will target older cars in more humid climates before expanding across the country.  The expanded recall is a victory for NHTSA, which fought with Takata for months and was criticized by lawmakers last year for its public guidance amid the regional recall. Foxx called it “a major step forward for public safety,” adding: “We will not stop our work until every air bag is replaced.”

The lawyers at Liever, Hyman & Potter, P.C., are concerned for the safety of automobile drivers and passengers in Berks County and Schuylkill County and serve accident victims and their families in Reading, PA, Pottsville, PA, and throughout Eastern and Central, Pennsylvania.

From the desk of Adam K. Levin, Esquire.

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