FILE – This Oct. 22, 2014, file photo, shows the North American headquarters of automotive parts supplier Takata in Auburn Hills, Mich. The nation’s highway safety watchdog says U.S. cars and trucks have about 85 million Takata air bag inflators in them that haven’t been recalled. Takata’s inflators can explode with too much force and spew shrapnel into drivers and passengers. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
They’re part of a massive expansion of Takata air bag recalls announced earlier this month. Seventeen automakers are adding 35 million-to-40 million inflators to what already was the largest auto recall in U.S. history.
In addition, the Japanese transport ministry on Friday announced 7 million more Takata-related recalls covering air bag inflators without a chemical drying agent.
Friday’s U.S. recalls include passenger air bags in older models in areas along the Gulf Coast with high heat and humidity. But other areas of the country are also affected depending on the age of vehicles.
Takata uses the chemical ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion that inflates air bags in a crash. But the chemical can deteriorate over time when exposed to high heat and humidity and burn faster than designed. That can blow apart a metal canister, spewing hot shrapnel into vehicles.
The inflators are responsible for 11 deaths and more than 100 injuries worldwide. Two more deaths are under investigation in Malaysia.
The recalls are among the first unveiled by automakers since Takata agreed May 4 to the recall expansion, and more will be announced in the coming week. The recalls are being phased in by the government due to a lack of available replacement parts. Models from 2011 or older in high heat and humidity areas will get first priority, followed by 2008 and older models in Southern-tier states, then 2004 and older models in the rest of the country.
Research has shown that it takes at least six years for the ammonium nitrate to deteriorate. That’s the reason older models get priority.
Honda had the biggest recall total on Friday with more than 4.5 million inflators, while Fiat Chrysler reported 4.3 million. The Honda total includes about 2,700 Gold Wing motorcycles with optional front air bags.
Honda says the latest recall covers only about 2.2 million additional Honda and Acura vehicles. The other 2.3 million vehicles were recalled previously for Takata problems. Honda expects the recalls to start in late summer for automobiles and in late fall for the motorcycles.
Fiat Chrysler said it’s not aware of any crashes or injuries involving its vehicles that are part of the recall.
The latest recalls cover mainly front passenger inflators without the chemical drying agent. The jury is still out on whether Takata will have to recall millions more inflators with the drying agent. Takata has to prove to the government that those are safe by the end of 2019, or they will be recalled.
Before the latest expansion, automakers had recalled 28.8 million Takata inflators, so as many as 69 million could be recalled in the U.S. alone. The numbers have raised concerns about Takata’s financial survival. The Japanese parts supplier has hired advisory firm Lazard to restructure its finances, and automakers likely will have to shoulder some costs.
Since the recalled models vary by state and age, officials say that the best way to see if your car is affected is to go to https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/ and key in the vehicle identification number. That number can be found on the driver’s side of the dashboard near the windshield or on state vehicle registrations. It may take several weeks for all the newly recalled vehicles to be entered into the databases.
Here are models covered by the recalls announced Friday:
TOYOTA: Certain 2008-2011 Scion xB and Lexus IS F, 2009-2011 Toyota Corolla and Matrix, 2006-2011 Toyota Yaris, Lexus IS250 and Lexus IS350, 2010-2011 Toyota 4Runner, Lexus IS250C, Lexus IS350C and Lexus GX460, 2011 Sienna, 2007-2011 Lexus ES350, and 2009-2010 Pontiac Vibes designed for General Motors by Toyota.
MAZDA: Certain 2009-2011 Mazda6, 2007-2011 CX-7 and CX-9, 2004-2011 RX-8, 2004-2006 MPV, 2003-2008 Mazda6, 2006-2007 Mazdaspeed6
SUBARU: Certain 2003-2004 Legacy and Outback, 2006 Saab 9-2x made by Subaru, and 2003-2006 Baja pickups. Also certain 2009-2011 Legacy, Outback and Forester; 2006-2011 Impreza and Tribeca.
NISSAN: Certain 2005-2008 Infiniti FX35 and FX45, 2003-2004 Infiniti I30 and I35, 2006-2010 Infiniti M35 and M45, and 2007-2011 Nissan Versa.
FERRARI: Certain 2009-2011 Ferrari California and 2010-2011 458 Italia.
MITSUBISHI: Certain 2006-2007 Lancer and Lancer Evolution cars.