The owners of 7.8 million Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors vehicles have been told to “act immediately” on recall notices to replace faulty air bags supplied by Takata. The parts should be replaced because they can explode, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) warned. According to TIME magazine, the faulty air bags have been linked to at least three deaths and over 100 injuries.
In a NHTSA press release, NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman said “Responding to these recalls, whether old or new, is essential to personal safety and it will help aid our ongoing investigation into Takata airbags and what appears to be a problem related to extended exposure to consistently high humidity and temperatures,”
According to The New York Times, the air bags contain a defective, unstable propellant that can explode even in a minor accident. This can send metal shards flying into the cabin, leading to serious injury or death.
NHTSA stated that the alert “comes with urgency”, especially for car owners located in Florida, Puerto Rico, limited areas near the Gulf of Mexico in Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Louisiana, as well as Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands and Hawaii.
NYT reports that after the regulators alerted consumers to the issue, many were left without clear direction. The NHTSA website has a feature that allows consumers to look up the recall status of their car by vehicle identification number, but it was not functioning. Individuals who tried to call the agency’s hotline (1-888-327-4236) were frequently put on hold. Furthermore, car owners were not able to actually replace the defective parts because they were not available.
The agency said in a statement “N.H.T.S.A. is experiencing intermittent network issues that are making some functions on SaferCar.gov temporarily unavailable,” according to NYT, also added “We apologize for the inconvenience and encourage you to try back later.”