The Largest Ever Recall
Takata supplied just about every major automaker with their defective air bags, and they were a popular supplier since those cut corners let them offer the best prices. And since the defect only appears over time, companies installed their air bags in millions of vehicles built throughout a decade or more. As a result, the Takata air bag recall has easily become the biggest auto recall in history, and in the United States alone about 41.6 million vehicles have been recalled by their manufacturers.
Takata has long since gone out of business, but the recalls are still ongoing to this day. Because of the scale of the problem, companies have been issuing their recalls in phases, with the cars in the greatest danger of malfunctioning going first. This was based on location as well as age, since heat and humidity cause the inflators to fail faster. Still, the recall is finally winding down, and most of the new recalls are for vehicles that got newer Takata replacement parts back when there weren’t enough non-defective replacements to go around.
However, while the vehicles for most manufacturers have gone through the replacement process (or at least issued their recalls), one automaker continues to drag its heels. For the past four years, GM has petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for an exception to the recall regarding some of their vehicles. Specifically, the models include their company’s pickup trucks and SUVs. The company insists that these vehicles integrate their air bags differently and so the inflators aren’t at risk of corrosion.
GM may very well be right, but the trouble is that it’s hard to know for certain. The company has offered its conclusions without showing the work, so the public only has their word that the air bags are different enough to not cause a problem. The other issue is that the NHTSA hasn’t made a final ruling on GM’s petition. The automaker can continue to put off its recalls by filing a new petition every year, but they could still happen in the future if the regulator rules against them. This leaves the vehicle owners in limbo.