It’s the largest auto recall in history—tens of millions of Takata airbags need to be replaced. Those airbags have been linked to at least 10 deaths and more than 100 injuries in the U.S. But as Consumer Reports found, getting a recalled airbag replaced isn’t always easy, and the fix might only be short term.
According to a recent congressional report, more than 60-percent of faulty Takata airbag inflators are being replaced with new Takata inflators that will eventually have to be recalled as well.
How is that possible? Several reasons. The inflators become faulty with age and when they’re exposed to heat and humidity. So technically, according to regulators, there’s nothing wrong with them right now.
There’s also a shortage of airbags because so few companies make them. And there’s no law preventing carmakers from using Takata airbags as replacements or on new cars. In fact, several companies recently acknowledged they’re doing just that. Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Mitsubishi say some of the new cars will be recalled to fix faulty airbags.
And with any recall, typically 30 to 35 percent never get fixed. That’s because the cars may have been scrapped, stolen, sold, or exported.
Consumer Reports urges drivers to take all recalls seriously and take care of them as soon as possible. You can see whether your car or a used car you’re looking to buy is on a recall list by going to safercar.gov.