De­fect prompts Takata air bag re­call

One death linked to new prob­lem with driver in­fla­tors

Orlando Sentinel - - BUSINESS - By Tom Kr­isher

DETROIT — A new prob­lem that has led to at least one death has been dis­cov­ered in air bags made by the now bank­rupt com­pany Takata.

The re­cently dis­cov­ered mal­func­tion is dif­fer­ent from the de­fect that led to at least 24 deaths and hun­dreds of in­juries world­wide, though the re­sult, like the ear­lier is­sue, leads to air bags that can ex­plode and hurl shrap­nel, killing or in­jur­ing peo­ple.

The com­pany is adding about 1.4 mil­lion front driver in­fla­tors to re­calls in the U.S., ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments posted Wed­nes­day.

BMW is warn­ing own­ers of some older 3-se­ries cars to stop driv­ing them.

A driver in Aus­tralia was killed by an air bag mal­func­tion, while an­other Aus­tralian and a driver in Cyprus were in­jured, ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments.

In­cluded in the re­call are more than 116,000 BMW 3-Se­ries cars from the 1999 to 2001 model years. About 8,000 def­i­nitely have faulty in­fla­tors and should be parked, BMW said. The rest can still be driven.

In ad­di­tion, cer­tain Audi, Honda, Toy­ota and Mit­subishi ve­hi­cles made from 1995 to 2000 also are be­ing re­called, but in­for­ma­tion on which mod­els was not avail­able Wed­nes­day.

Un­like pre­vi­ous re­calls, the Takata non-azide in­fla­tors do not use volatile am­mo­nium ni­trate to fill the air bags in a crash.

But the air bag pro­pel­lant can still de­te­ri­o­rate over time when ex­posed to mois­ture and ex­plode too fast, blow­ing apart the in­fla­tor body.

They also might not fully in­flate in a crash.

Takata says in gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments that it made 4.5 mil­lion of the in­fla­tors world­wide, but only a por­tion are in use be­cause the ve­hi­cles are old. The faulty in­fla­tors have prob­lems with in­suf­fi­cient seals.

Toy­ota and Honda said they’re still fig­ur­ing out which mod­els will have to be re­called. U.S. safety reg­u­la­tors said they were told by Mit­subishi that the only U.S. ve­hi­cle af­fected is the 1998 through 2000 Mon­tero.

The Na­tional High­way Traf­fic Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion said it’s in dis­cus­sions with the au­tomak­ers about the re­calls. It urged own­ers to search for re­calls by en­ter­ing their ve­hi­cle iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­ber at nhtsa.dot.gov/re­calls.

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