3.3 Million More Airbags Recalled- What This Mom Found Out and Virginia Consumers Need to Know

2/12/18 Update: MY 2006 Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series trucks have been identified as an immediate risk to safety and owners are urged to stop driving them and contact the manufacturer.

1/11/18 Important Update: NHTSA is urging owners of 2006 Ford Rangers to stop driving immediately due to having high risk airbags. Ford will send mobile repair teams to owners’ homes, tow the trucks to a local dealership for repair, and also provide loaner vehicles–all free of charge. 

I'm a Social Media Specialist at NNINS and a wife and mother here in Virginia. We have five cars in our family- me, my husband, and three driving kids- one in college, one in graduate school and a senior in high school. Yes, please pray for us to win the Virginia Lottery!  

Years ago, we received a recall for the airbags for one of our cars and checked the others online, none of which had the airbags. Or so I thought. Then I heard in the news this week that 3.3 million more cars have now been recalled for the same bad airbags. I immediately went online and sure enough, three more of our cars were identified to have them. With my daughters driving back to school next week from their winter break, time was not on our side. But I wanted to know their cars were safe. So, I did a little digging and here's what I found out.

The Ever Expanding Takata Recall

In 2016, the NHTSA expanded its open 2008 recall ordering Takata to replace ALL airbags manufactured with the chemical PSAN or phased-stabilized ammonium nitrate. The chemical creates a small explosion to facilitate the inflation of the airbag during a collision. They found that prolonged exposure to heat and humidity were causing the chemical to burn too quickly. This resulted in the unintended explosion of a metal canister component inside the airbag, sending dangerous shrapnel directly at the driver and front seat passenger.

Image: Alexauto321, Wikimedia Commons

What should be a protective lifesaving device, has caused 20 documented fatalities and numerous injuries. Takata has faced criminal conviction and bankruptcy. I was surprised to read only an estimated 43% of airbags have been replaced! 

What Virginians Need to Know

I also found out the NHTSA has had to prioritize notifications and replacements for consumers based on risk to handle the staggering number of dangerous airbags. The risk is a combination of time, temperature fluctuations and humidity. Therefore, the vehicle's age and location determines when the owner is alerted of the recall and availability of a replacement. You can see the zones for vehicle age at NHTSA's site. For temperature and humidity, Virginia has been designated as Zone B - "less hot and humid" than our southern neighbors. 

Map based on NHTSA data

But the most important thing I discovered is that Virginians can and should be proactive about getting all their affected vehicles' airbags replaced now. 

After hearing about the additional recalls and finding that three more of our cars have now been identified with the airbags, I called our local dealership's service center. I simply told them my cars had been recalled, they verified it in their system and scheduled me an appointment the same week to have them replaced. I didn't even have to tell them I was under a time crunch.

Here's the thing:

It's dangerous to put off replacing your car's airbag both for you and whoever happens to be your passenger. It could be your friend, your mom, or your child. And even if you've checked your car's VIN for the recall before and it wasn't identified, it may be now and more will most likely be added. Keep checking!

It's completely free and you don't have to wait to receive notice to ask for a replacement.  Here are few simple steps you can take.

Check For Your Recall:

  1. Find your car's 17 character vehicle identification number (VIN). The easiest place to look is on your NNINS insurance card or on your Virginia car registration. You can also look inside your driver's side door frame or on your car's windshield and snap a picture with your phone!

                         NNINS Insurance ID Card 

    Virginia DVM registration card

  2. Go to NHTSA's online look-up tool and enter your VIN. 
  3. Check for recalls and make sure your current contact information is correct. FAQs are here.
  4. If your car IS identified, contact your local car dealer's service department, alert them of your recall and schedule an appointment. It does take some time so plan on dropping your car off and leaving it for the good part of the day. 
  5. If your car IS NOT identified in the recall, set a reminder to check back in six months and sign up for notifications.

Most dealership's service departments will accommodate your replacement right away. If your local dealer tells you to wait because they are prioritizing higher risk vehicles, ask them when you can schedule to bring it in and tell them you wish to do it as soon as possible. Automakers are required to replace airbags in a timely manner in compliance with the NHTSA's protocol. Keep checking back with them or try another dealership location. 

My daughters are all set to head back to school. I'm so glad we got their cars safe to get them there and home again. Knowing our cars' air bags will protect me and my family and certain that they won't ever hurt us, is every Virginian's right and a mom's peace of mind!

  

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