Experts Nervous About Repairs to Takata Airbags
By Avon Alexander, Staff Writer
The Takata airbag saga does not seem to be abating any time soon. Months after it was revealed that the company supplied millions of faulty airbags to car manufacturers, it has been revealed that the company has been using the same dangerous process, which caused at least 10 deaths, in repairing the recalled airbags.
Company Continues Bad Practices
WJLA news in Washington D.C. reports that up to 70 million Takata airbags are under recall in the U.S., which accounts for nearly one out of every five cars. Experts say that about 9 million cars have been repaired. But the fact that Takata is responsible for the recalls and repairs, and the revelation that the company is using some of the same practices and components which were found in the faulty airbags, is making some industry watchers nervous.
Explosive Substance to Blame
One of the major reasons the Takata airbags are so dangerous is the company’s use of a chemical called ammonium nitrate, which causes the airbags to deploy. The substance has been described as volatile, and experts say that it can become unstable when exposed to humidity or temperature changes. Under those circumstances ammonium nitrate can deploy with so much force that the metal airbag housing cannot contain it, causing the airbag to explode with shrapnel. In one case an elderly woman was in a low-velocity auto accident, and her Takata airbag did not deploy immediately. When it did deploy it did so with such force that it broke the woman’s back.
Company Says Repaired Airbags Safe
Takata says that it has added a desiccant to the ammonium nitrate, meant to help the substance stay dry even in high humidity conditions. But that does not address the issues involved with the substance becoming unstable during temperature changes.
Takata also has been accused of having falsified airbag test data for years (including a recent public accusation by Honda Motor Co.), misleading both auto manufacturers and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
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