NHTSA Reveals That 660 Airbag Inflators Ruptured While Testing Recalled Parts

Deployed airbag for demonstration purposes 1 photo
Photo: Volvo
Takata airbag inflators have been linked to 15 deaths so far, but the number could have been greater if the recall campaign had not begun.
The NHTSA has tested 245,000 airbag inflators that were recalled through the Takata safety campaign, and the organization has found that 660 of these inflators ruptured during the procedure.

Each of those 660 inflators could have caused a death or serious injury if it had not been replaced during the campaign and the vehicle that was fitted with it from the factory had been involved in an accident that would have triggered the deployment of the supplemental restraint system.

The recall process was focused on the oldest cars affected by the problem because their inflators are most likely to manifest the fault that caused the entire situation. Humidity trickles into the inflator or gets generated inside it, which leads to an explosion with an excessive force when the airbag is activated.

The explosion then breaks the body of the inflator and sends shrapnel into the passenger compartment, potentially injuring or killing the occupant that the airbag is supposed to protect.

It is a known fact that Takata’s airbag inflators degrade over time, and that vehicles that have been exposed to environments with significant changes in temperature or with excessive humidity are most likely to fail.

A spokesperson for Takata has explained that the recall campaign has focused on the vehicles that posed the highest safety risk, and that is why older models had priority over new vehicles.

The second category will eventually get new airbag inflators before the units they become a safety risk. As we noted, some automakers still sell new cars with Takata airbags and inflators, and the latter elements have a design that might be subjected to a recall campaign by 2019 if the Japanese supplier cannot prove that they are safe to employ.

The test results presented by the NHTSA show that owners of older cars affected by the Takata airbag recall must schedule an appointment to have their airbag inflators replaced. Otherwise, they are exposed to tremendous risks if their vehicle is involved in an accident, Bloomberg notes.
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About the author: Sebastian Toma
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Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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