A recall was issued by NHTSA recently for 7.8 million vehicles that are equipped with defective and potentially deadly Takata airbags. Many of the vehicles included in the Takata air bag recall date as far back as vehicle model year 2000. With the average age of vehicles on the road in the U.S. over 11 years of age however, a fairly large share of these vehicles may still be in use.
The issue with the air bags has been linked to a manufacturing defect at two Takata plants in the U.S., where the affected air bags deteriorate as the vehicle ages, particularly in areas of high humidity. During air bag deployment, shards of metal and plastic are emitted, injuring and in several cases, killing the vehicle occupant(s).
With so many vehicles impacted, there is concern that there may be a shortage of air bags available for recall replacement. Both GM and Toyota have indicated they have good supplies of air bags (see @CCC_Susanna for retweets of articles below), and automakers may also decide to switch air bag supplier as a result.
From a collision repair perspective, a shortage of air bags has also been raised as a concern. CCC’s Crash Course 2014 included analysis specifically around air bag replacement in vehicle appraisals / repairs. Less than 2 percent of repairable appraisals include any type of air bag replacement in 2013 [Figure 22].
And, data on repairable vehicles by vehicle age group shows most air bag replacements occur on vehicles of model year current to 3 years of age [Figure 23].
Most of the vehicles impacted by the recall are 5 years of age or older. The exception is the Honda Element which runs through model year 2011, but this was never a vehicle with large sales volume.
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