The Takata Conundrum

Why should anyone take a pass on personal safety?

Story Peter Brewer | Photo Shutterstock

The Takata airbag recall is the biggest in automotive history and one of the most comprehensive global recalls of any product, worldwide.

Slide behind the steering wheel and, in front of your chest, is an explosive device.

It’s concealed, carefully packaged and painstakingly engineered, but explosive nonetheless.

Herein lies the problem – behind the smooth, innocuous plastic wrapping of your car’s Takata driver and/or passenger airbag, decay may have set in.

For certain vehicles produced between 2000 and 2004, the risk is highest. These are the so-called “alpha” airbags.

You can’t see this decay and you can’t test for it; not very easily, anyway. All you can do is replace the whole airbag.

There are many different types of Takata airbags (driver, passenger, single layer, dual layer) made in factories all around the world and not all are faulty.

The highest risk airbags (the “alphas”) have been traced to factories in Mexico and the US, and flawed manufacturing processes within those factories. While the manufacturing issue has been fixed, the problem remains for cars initially supplied with these airbags.

Time is the big enemy of “alpha” Takata airbags and that’s why they are the recall priority.

Older cars built between 2000 and 2004 are a key focus because, over time, moist air and changes in air pressure degrade key internal parts.

Therein lies the compelling reason why every car owner should check if their vehicle is affected. Be proactive: go to your brand’s recall website, enter your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), and if your vehicle is affected, contact your dealer and book your car in for a replacement airbag.

If you receive a letter in the mail from your vehicle manufacturer about this matter, act on the advice immediately.

Replacing your airbag comes with no cost to you and the life you save may not just be yours, but of the person sitting next to you in the front passenger’s seat.