Toyota has had to recall nearly 3 million vehicles due to an issue they are having with their air bags. The vehicles that are being recalled are Toyota’s Corolla Axio sedan and its RAV4 SUV crossover, which have issues with exploding air bags.
The massive recall is for Japan, China and Oceania, among other regions.
The company reports that at least 16 deaths are associated with the exploding airbags issue. The airbags start to explode when exposed to high heat for long amounts of time.
The airbags were produced by Takata Corp. Toyota is not the only company that has had problems with Takata corp. Subaru manufacturer Fuji Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Motors and truck maker Hino have also recalled vehicles due to similar problems with airbag inflators.
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Global transport authorities consider Takata’s airbag inflators containing the chemical compound ammonium nitrate to be unsafe if used without a drying agent. Roughly 100 million Takata inflators on the market must be withdrawn.
Toyota says that the latest recall comes following a wider recall of the inflators ordered by global transport authorities in 2016.
Recalls were issued for about 1.16 million vehicles sold in Oceania, the Middle East, and smaller markets for the company, Toyota says. About 750,000 vehicles were recalled in Japan.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration referred to the recall as the “largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history.”
Vehicles sold in North America are exempt from the most recent recall, the company says.
According to Consumer Reports, the issue with the Takata inflators in question involves a metal cartridge inside the airbag that is meant to help inflate it but can ignite with greater force than intended. In crashes where the inflator housing is damaged, the cartridge can spray metal shards through the car’s interior at speeds high enough to penetrate the car’s occupants — a potentially fatal malfunction. Moisture, temperature and age can all increase the chances of such a malfunction.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has determined that the cause of the problem is that the airbags use an ammonium nitrate-based propellent without a chemical drying agent.
Takata has faced serious legal and financial ramifications over the issue; in February 2017, the company pleaded guilty to a felony charge and paid out more than $1 billion in a settlement.