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GM recalls 200,000 cars for Takata air bag trouble

February 16, 2016   by The Associated Press

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DETROIT – General Motors is recalling about 200,000 Saab and Saturn cars in the U.S. and Canada to replace the Takata driver’s air bag inflators.

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2014 file photo, Senate Commerce Committee member Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. holds an example of the defective airbag made by Takata of Japan that has been linked to multiple deaths and injuries in cars driven in the U.S. during the committee's hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. According to documents posted Friday, Feb. 12, 2016, on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website, Volkswagen resisted U.S. government efforts to recall more cars and trucks to fix potentially deadly Takata air bags — telling safety regulators that a recall isn't necessary. But the German automaker, already in hot water with the government for cheating on U.S. pollution tests, eventually agreed to the recall. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The move is part of a broader recall of about 5.4 million vehicles announced last month by U.S. safety regulators.

Takata inflators can explode with too much force in a crash and hurl metal shrapnel into drivers and passengers. At least 10 people have died worldwide and 139 have been hurt due to the problem.

The GM recall includes the Saab 9-3 from 2003 to 2011 and the Saab 9-5 from 2010 and 2011. Also included is the Saturn Astra from 2008 and 2009.

Related: U.S. gov’t: 10th death linked to exploding Takata air bags

Dealers will replace the inflators. Owners will get letters notifying them of the recalls, but since parts aren’t available yet, they’ll have to wait for a second letter before taking cars to dealers.

GM has no plans to offer loaner cars to people who don’t want to drive their vehicles, spokesman Tom Wilkinson said. The type of Takata inflators in the GM cars ruptured only in testing and not in the field, he said. “Our position is you can continue to drive the cars as normal” until repairs are made, he said.

The Saab models under recall were sold in other markets including Europe, while the Astra was sold as an Opel in Europe and elsewhere. Wilkinson said GM’s global safety team is reviewing data on the inflators in other markets “and will respond appropriately.”

Related: U.S. officials lower number of Takata air bag recalls to 23.4 million, from more than 30 million

GM sold the Saab brand in 2009 but kept responsibility for administering its recalls. The brand eventually went out of business.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the latest round of Takata recalls on Jan. 22 after the death of a South Carolina man when an inflator ruptured on a 2006 Ford Ranger, and when testing showed four ruptures on a different type of Takata inflator.

The latest round of recalls covers vehicles made by GM, Ford, BMW, Volkswagen, Honda, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz and Daimler Trucks. They bring to about 24.4 million the number of vehicles under recall in the U.S. for Takata air bag problems, affecting 14 car and truck makers. It’s already the largest automotive recall in U.S. history, and the government expects it to grow. Worldwide, about 50 million inflators are under recall.