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NHTSA: Less than 35 pct of faulty Takata airbags have been fixed

The U.S. Senate has been looking into the status of the Takata airbag inflator recall that has been plaguing automakers worldwide. According to information submitted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 46.2 million airbags have been recalled so far out of an estimated 100 million-plus thought to be affected.

Unfortunately, of those 46.2 million, owners have succeeded in getting only 15.8 million repaired so far. That's less than 35 percent -- and more recalls need to be implemented.

A senator citing data from NHTSA says 8.8 million owners who received recall notices were turned away from dealerships because no recall kits were available. Takata says it has shipped out more than 26 million repair kits, two-thirds of which contain inflators manufactured by other companies. This is important because, as recently as December, potentially defective Takata air bags were still being installed in new cars.

As you may recall, the defective airbags were manufactured by Takata and installed in a wide range of cars by different manufacturers. The problem is that the inflator module explodes with too much force, breaking the surrounding housing. This sends plastic and metal shrapnel flying through the cabin of the vehicle. These explosions have been tied to at least 16 fatalities and 180 accidents with injuries.

The recall began in 2008 and ultimately came to affect about 100 million faulty inflators. So far, 29 million air bag inflators in U.S. vehicles have been recalled. That number is expected to grow to between 64 and 69 million by 2019.

According to NHTSA's Takata air bag recall website, vehicles by any of the following manufacturers could contain the dangerous airbag inflators:

  • Acura
  • Audi
  • BMW
  • Cadillac
  • Chevrolet
  • Chrysler
  • Daimler Trucks North America (Sterling Bullet)
  • Daimler Vans USA LLC (Sprinter)
  • Dodge/Ram
  • Ferrari
  • Fisker
  • Ford
  • GMC
  • Honda
  • Infiniti
  • Jaguar
  • Jeep
  • Land Rover
  • Lexus
  • Lincoln
  • Mazda
  • McLaren
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Mercury
  • Mitsubishi
  • Nissan
  • Pontiac
  • Saab
  • Saturn
  • Scion
  • Subaru
  • Tesla
  • Toyota
  • Volkswagen

In February of this year, Takata pled guilty to criminal wrongdoing for failing to respond appropriately to a federal investigation into the air bag inflators. It has agreed to pay $1 billion. Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Subaru have agreed to compensate owners of affected vehicles to the tune of $553 million.

If you receive a recall notice about a faulty Takata air bag, don't hesitate. Get it fixed right away and follow up if repair kits are not yet available. Persistence could save your life.

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