Airbags are one of the most critical lifelines in any motor vehicle. They cushion drivers and passengers from hitting the automobile’s interior in a collision, preventing injury. But airbags aren’t safe from manufacturing defects; they can cause injury or death when compromised.
Since 2013, auto companies have issued worldwide recalls over defective airbags that Takata Corporation manufactured. But with so many cars affected, the recalls continue to this day. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 67 million airbags have been recalled, but by the end of 2022, 11 million have yet to be replaced.
BMW is the latest auto company to issue a warning and a recall over defective airbags. The company warned consumers to stop driving vehicles from the 2000 to 2006 model years – about 90,000 cars in the U.S. – because they had defective airbag inflators from Takata.
What’s wrong with Takata’s airbags?
Safety experts found that the chemical Takata used for emergency inflation becomes unstable over time, especially when subjected to heat and humidity. The instability can cause the airbags to explode when deployed and send metal fragments flying into vehicle occupants’ faces, causing injuries or even death.
The NHTSA has warned that the airbag inflators on older vehicles pose a 50% chance of rupturing in even the smallest of crashes. The agency encourages affected car owners to have their vehicles serviced as soon as possible to replace the defective part.
Should drivers be worried?
Safety experts and automakers are still exploring the full extent of Takata’s defective airbag manufacturing. It’s even believed that the defect has been present in cars as early as 1998. There’s a possibility that some older cars have the defect but have yet to be recalled because their manufacturers have yet to confirm that the flaw exists.
What should you do if your airbag is defective?
If you discover that your car has a Takata airbag inflator the hard way – through a collision that triggers the airbag, causing shrapnel to wound your body – you could sue the automaker and the airbag manufacturer for the product defect. Note that Takata now goes by Joyson Safety Systems after the company went through bankruptcy because of the sheer amount of money it owed in compensation.
You also might want to hire an attorney to represent you in court because product defect lawsuits can be tricky to navigate.