The largest auto safety recall in U.S. history is now more than doubling in size.
Japanese auto parts manufacturer Takata has been ordered to recall between 35 million and 40 million airbag inflators through 2019. That’s in addition to the 28.8 million it was forced to pull last year.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said defective ammonium nitrate propellant that’s supposed to inflate the airbag can explode and send out metal shrapnel.
Now, we’re learning that even without manufacturing defects, the propellant degrades over time, especially in warm, humid weather. That leads to the same issues as the defective models.
The faulty inflators are now estimated to impact nearly a quarter of U.S. vehicles. The NHTSA said the inflators have caused 10 deaths and over 100 injuries.
Takata was already fined $70 million for misleading the government about the inflators, and that fine could increase to a record $200 million if the NHTSA isn’t satisfied with its reforms.
NHTSA administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind recommends that anyone who’s received notice that their airbag could be defective should get it replaced immediately. You can find out if your car is affected at safercar.gov.