In an effort to speed progress of the Takata air bag recalls, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued an order that updates requirements for when automakers must have replacement parts available and sets new deadlines.
NHTSA, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, issued the order to Takata and the 19 affected automakers. The directive sets new requirements for automakers to certify when they’ve acquired enough replacement parts for dealers to begin repairs. Additionally, automakers must submit plans to improve customer notification using established guidelines.
Defective Takata air bag inflators have been responsible for 11 deaths and approximately 180 injuries in the U.S., according to NHTSA. A combination of time, environmental moisture, and cycling high temperatures contribute to the degradation of the ammonium nitrate propellant in the recalled inflators. Such degradation can cause the propellant to burn too quickly, rupturing the inflator module and sending shrapnel through the air bag and into the vehicle’s cabin.
“The Department of Transportation is maintaining its aggressive oversight of the efforts to recall Takata air bags as quickly as possible,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The amended order will speed up the availability of replacement air bags, and continues to prioritize the highest risk vehicles to protect the traveling public.”
There are currently 46 million recalled Takata air bag inflators in 29 million vehicles in the U.S. Under an order issued to Takata in May, automakers must recall additional inflators over the next three years. The recalls will eventually affect up to 69 million inflators in 42 million total recalled vehicles.
NHTSA reaffirmed it’s committed to seeking a 100% recall completion rate from the vehicle manufacturers. As of Dec. 2, automakers reported they have so far repaired approximately 12.5 million inflators.
The Takata recalls currently cover frontal inflators that lack a chemical desiccant that absorbs moisture. Ultimately, all frontal Takata inflators using non-desiccated phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate (PSAN) will be recalled. The full list of vehicles that are currently affected or will be affected by future Takata recalls is available here.
There have been no reported ruptures of desiccated inflators due to propellant degradation, according to NHTSA. But the agency is requiring Takata and automakers that use desiccated PSAN inflators to research their safety. Without proof that the desiccated PSAN inflators are safe, they will also be subject to recall in the future. Takata is required to prove the safety of these inflators by the end of 2019.