A couple of weeks ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ordered the expansion of the ongoing Takata airbag inflator recall by more than 5 million vehicles. Last week, three German automakers contributed more than half of the figure when they recalled more than 2.5 million vehicles. Today, General Motors contributed to the growing expansion with the addition of 200,000 Saab and Saturn models. Although they are no longer part of GM now, the two brands were very much part of its family when the cars under recall were manufactured, 2003-2011.
In today’s action, the automaker has recalled a total of 200,000 vehicles, 180,000 in the United States and 20,000 in Canada. Specifically, the automaker has recalled:
- Saab 9-3 models built from 2003-2011
- Saab 9-5 models built in 2010 and 2011
- Saturn Astra models built from 2008 to 2009
Last week’s recall involved 2.5 million vehicles from:
The recalled vehicles use the PSDI-5 driver-side airbag inflators. This model is one of the inflators that have been linked to a number of failures that have resulted in 10 deaths and more than 100 injuries. Most of the trouble has occurred in Honda models primarily because Takata was the automaker’s primary airbag and component supplier through the end of last year. Recently, though, the recall widened beyond Honda as the operator of a 2006 Ford Ranger pickup reportedly died from injuries caused by an airbag’s deployment.
The Takata airbag inflator recall has become the largest auto-related safety recall in history in the U.S. With the latest expansion, the recalls has grown to more than 25 million vehicles in the U.S. Worldwide, the number of vehicles is approaching 55 million. Investigations into the cause of the problem all seem to point to a problems involving the airbag propellant and design. Investigators, looking into the issues, have found that over time the ammonium nitrate propellant that Takata has used since the late 1990s deteriorates when it is exposed to moisture. As the breakdown continues, the blast used to propel either the front driver-side or passenger-side airbag becomes too powerful, causing the inflator housing to burst. In turn, the shards of the inflator turn into shrapnel, scything through the passenger compartment, sometimes with deadly effect. The airbag manufacturer, Takata, is under intense pressure to find the cause, fix the problem and replace the inflators.
Automotive News provided much of the information for this story.