Defect prompts Takata air bag recall
One death linked to new problem with driver inflators
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.