If you drive a Lexus, Toyota, Nissan, Infiniti, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Honda, Mazda, BWM, Ford, or GM vehicle please act immediately to have the safety of your driver and passenger side air bags evaluated.
NHTSA issued an unusually strong warning yesterday directing owners of 4.7 million vehicles to have their air bag systems check out by the dealer as soon as possible. The air bags, made by Japanese manufacturer Takata, have been implicated in at least two deaths.
The problem, which has been under review and know about for years, involves a defective air bag propellent, which - instead of inflating the air bag in a collision -- creates an explosion that shoots metal fragments into the passenger compartment. Regulators and safety experts have described it as being like an IED explosion. The problem appears to be linked to high humidity in the air.
The silent recall, or rolling recall, where companies would recall small numbers of vehicles when complaints arose is now over. NHTSA has stepped in and the alarm bell is ringing.
You can read the New York Times coverage here. This morning's New York Times front page had the story of Hien Tran, a young woman who died earlier this year after a car crash. Doctors initially thought she had been stabbed in the neck. It turns out her injuries were caused by the defective, but not yet recalled air bags.
Here is NHTSA's official release dated October 20, 2014. Please check it to see if your vehicle is on the list. Unfortunately, though, tracking down exactly what vehicles are impacted has proven difficult. If you drive a vehicle manufactured by a car company on the list, you should make an appointment to have your closest dealer take a look at the air bag system to make sure all is in order.
This afternoon, Car and Driver magazine published the most up to date recall list -- but be aware this list is growing as regulators work to catch up with the full scope of the problem.
BMW (573,935): 2000–2005 3-series sedan and wagon; 2000–2006 3-series coupe and convertible; 2001–2006 M3 coupe and convertible
Chrysler: 2006 Dodge Charger (additional models unknown)
Ford: 2004 Ranger, 2005–2006 GT, 2005–2007 Mustang
General Motors (162,240, not including Pontiac Vibe): 2003–2005 Pontiac Vibe, 2013–2014 Cruze (different Takata module, similar problem); 2002–2003 Buick LeSabre and Rendezvous; Cadillac DeVille; Chevrolet TrailBlazer, Impala, Monte Carlo, Venture; GMC Envoy and Envoy XL; Oldsmobile Aurora, Bravada, Silhouette; Pontiac Bonneville and Montana
Honda/Acura (2,803,214): 2001–2007 Accord, 2001–2005 Civic, 2002–2006 CR-V, 2003–2011 Element, 2002–2004 Odyssey, 2002–2007 Pilot, 2006 Ridgeline; 2002–2003 CL and TL, 2005 RL, 2003–2006 MDX Mazda (18,050): 2003–2004
Mazda 6, 2004 RX-8
Nissan/Infiniti (437,712): 2001–2003 Nissan Maxima, Pathfinder, and Infiniti I30/I35; 2002–2003 Nissan Sentra and Infiniti QX4; 2003 Infiniti FX
Subaru (8557): 2003–2004 Baja, Legacy, Outback; 2004 Impreza, WRX, WRX STI
Toyota/Lexus (844,227, including Pontiac Vibe): 2002–2005 Lexus SC430 and Toyota Sequoia; 2003–2005 Corolla, Matrix, Tundra
Mitsubishi: 2004–2005 Lancer