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NHTSA: Only minority of recalled Takata airbags have been fixed

The Takata airbag recall is thought to be the largest recall in the history of the automotive industry. The defective airbags are blamed for at least 16 fatalities and 180 injuries worldwide, and there are as many as 100 million vehicles from 34 manufacturers involved. Anyone who has been notified that their car or truck needs a replacement should act right away.

Recent information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, however, indicates that some 8.8 million owners were notified of the recall and went to have their vehicles repaired but were turned away because no repair kits were available. Moreover, of the 46.2 million vehicles recalled so far in the U.S., only about 15.8 million have actually been repaired.

As you may recall, the inflator component of the faulty airbags can explode with too much force, breaking surrounding plastic and metal parts in the airbag housing. The broken parts can shoot like shrapnel throughout the vehicle, injuring anyone inside. Most of the injuries and deaths have occurred in Honda vehicles in the U.S., but virtually all major manufacturers have affected vehicles, according to NHTSA's Takata air bag recall website.

What should I do if my vehicle has a recalled airbag and I can't get it fixed?

Be persistent. Takata says that it has "dramatically increased" production of replacement kits for the dangerous airbags. Only two-thirds of those new kits contain inflators manufactured by companies other than Takata, however. That means that you may get your existing airbag replaced by a newer one of the exact same manufacture, which itself will ultimately need replacing.

Take what repair is available. You may wonder if it's worth replacing an old Takata airbag assembly with a newer version. NHTSA urges you to do so. The data it has collected strongly indicates that the age of the inflator directly relates to the likelihood it will fail. Getting a newer version will substantially increase your safety while you await a better version.

Do not disable your airbag. As we mentioned in our last post, a defective airbag can be very dangerous. Even though that's true, NHTSA points out that only some of the older Takata airbag assemblies will fail. Most of them will perform properly in a crash, and airbags save around 2,400 lives a year. A disabled airbag, on the other hand, will fail 100 percent of the time.

If you suspect your airbag or any other auto part may have failed at a crucial moment, please reach out to an attorney who practices product liability. Your lawyer can help you get answers and protect your legal rights.

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