Takata Airbag Recalls and Deaths Mounting

Takata airbags have been recalled in approximately 25 million vehicles worldwide, and at least 12 deaths have been attributed publicly to the defective airbags.  I say “publicly” because there have been confidential settlements, which may have been kept from the public.

What is the problem with Takata airbags?

The horrible consequences of a  defective Takata airbag are illustrated by the facts of the case involving the 10th known Takata airbag death.  The family of Joel Knight, 52, is suing Takata and Ford for the wrongful death of Mr. Knight.  Mr. Knight was driving home from work in his Ford Ranger a few days before last Christmas when he struck a cow that had wandered into the road in Kershaw, South Carolina. The driver side airbag deployed, but it ruptured with great force.  According to the Knight’s attorney, “when the propellant [in the airbag canister] exploded, a single piece of steel launched out of the canister like a bullet and entered [Mr. Knight’s] spine and severed his spinal cord.”  The common mechanism of injury or death in these Takata airbag cases is metal shrapnel firing out from the ruptured airbag into the head, neck, or upper torso of the vehicle occupant.

What is the cause of the Takata airbag shrapnel phenomenon?

 Takata Corp., a Japanese company, hired a German company, Faunhofer Institute, to investigate the root cause of the exploding airbag canisters.  The final results of Faunhofer’s investigation are expected to be released in the coming weeks.   However, Faunhofer released partial results last June, which showed that the Takata airbag explosions resulted from the following: (1) Takata is the only manufacturer to use ammonium nitrate as a propellant to inflate its airbags, and when ammonium nitrate comes into contact with moisture, it becomes very unstable; and (2) some airbag inflators were damaged or improperly installed.

The significance of the ammonium nitrate problem is that occupants of vehicles in humid areas of the world or in an area that is experiencing much short-term precipitation are at risk if they get into a front-end collision of having metal shrapnel shot into their bodies.

What vehicles are subject to the multiple Takata airbag recalls?

Recall notices will be mailed to vehicle owners, but this process is notoriously slow and imprecise.  Consumers should search their own vehicle individually by going to safercar.gov and inserting the vehicle ID number (VIN) or year, make  and model.  There is a yellow box at the top right of this savercar.gov website, which says, “Search for Recalls by VIN.”  Click that button and follow the directions.  The safercar site currently has at the top of the page directly above the Search by VIN button a January 26 Takata Recall Update listing all affected vehicles.  Note that Ford recently added the 2004-2006 Ford Ranger to the recall list in response to the death of Mr. Knight.

This list, which is published by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, was last updated on December 23, 2015, and it lists the following recalls:

NHTSA Recalls Spotlight – Takata Air Bag Recalls


2000 328i
2001-2006 M3
2002-2003 M5
2000 323i
2002-2006 325Ci
2002-2006 330Ci
2002-2003 325iT
2002-2003 325XiT
2001-2006 325i
2001-2005 325Xi
2001-2006 330i
2001-2005 330Xi
2002-2003 525i
2002-2003 530i
2002-2003 540i
2003 X5 3.0i
2003 X5 4.4i

FCA (Chrysler):

2007-2008 Chrysler Aspen
2005-2010 Chrysler 300
2005-2010 Chrysler 300C
2005-2010 Chrysler SRT8
2008-2010 Dodge Challenger
2006-2010 Dodge Charger
2005-2011 Dodge Dakota
2004-2008 Dodge Durango
2005-2008 Dodge Magnum
2003-2009 Dodge Ram 1500
2003-2009 Dodge Ram 2500
2003-2009 Dodge Ram 3500
2008-2010 Dodge Ram 4500
2008-2010 Dodge Ram 5500

Daimler Trucks North America:

2008-2009 Sterling Bullet 4500
2008-2009 Sterling Bullet 5500

Daimler Vans USA LLC:

2007-2008 Dodge Sprinter 2500
2007-2008 Dodge Sprinter 3500
2007-2008 Freightliner Sprinter 2500
2007-2008 Freightliner Sprinter 3500


2004-2006 Ranger
2005-2006 GT
2005-2014 Mustang

General Motors (GM):

2007-2008 Chevrolet Silverado 2500
2007-2008 Chevrolet Silverado 3500
2007-2008 GMC Sierra 2500
2007-2008 GMC Sierra 3500
2003-2007 Pontiac Vibe
2005 Saab 9-2x


2001-2007 Accord
2001-2005 Civic
2003-2005 Civic Hybrid
2001-2004 Civic CNG
2002-2006 CR-V
2003-2011 Element
2002-2004 Odyssey
2003-2008 Pilot
2006 Ridgeline
2003 Acura CL
2002-2003 Acura TL
2003-2006 Acura MDX
2005 Acura RL


2004-2006 B-Series Truck
2003-2008 Mazda6
2006-2007 Mazda Mazdaspeed6
2004-2005 MPV
2004-2008 RX-8


2004-2006 Lancer
2004-2006 Lancer Evolution
2004 Lancer Sportback
2006-2009 Mitsubishi Raider


2001-2003 Nissan Maxima
2002-2006 Nissan Sentra
2002-2004 Nissan Pathfinder
2001 Infiniti I30
2003-2005 Infiniti FX35
2003-2005 Infiniti FX45
2002-2004 Infiniti I35
2006 Infiniti M35
2006 Infiniti M45
2002-2003 Infiniti QX4


2003-2005 Baja
2004-2005 Impreza
2003-2008 Legacy
2003-2008 Outback


2003-2007 Corolla
2003-2007 Corolla Matrix
2004-2005 Rav4
2002-2007 Sequoia
2003-2006 Tundra
2002-2007 Lexus SC