Toyota Airbag Recall Expands to US

Toyota Airbag Recall Expands to USToyota Airbag Recall Expands to US

Toyota Motor Corp is recalling 637,000 vehicles in the United States as part of a massive expansion of a global recall to replace potentially defective airbags that could rupture and send shrapnel into occupants, according to Reuters on Saturday.

The vehicles are being recalled in three separate campaigns, according to documents posted early Friday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The airbags were supplied by Japan's Takata Corp. More than 36 million vehicles equipped with Takata airbags and sold by 10 manufacturers have been recalled worldwide since mid-2009. Earlier this week, Toyota in Japan said it would expand its global airbag recalls by nearly 5 million vehicles.

As part of that effort, Toyota is recalling 300,000 vehicles sold in high-humidity US states and territories, including the 2005-2007 Corolla, Corolla Matrix and Sequoia, 2005-2006 Tundra and 2005-2007 Lexus SC, as well as the 2005-2007 Pontiac Vibe made for General Motors Co.

Toyota is also recalling 177,000 2003-2004 Tundra and 2004 Sequoia, as well as 160,000 2004-2005 RAV4. With all of the recalls, NHTSA said "the inflator could rupture, with metal fragments striking and potentially seriously injuring" vehicle occupants.

In a statement, Toyota's US subsidiary said "multiple investigations into the root cause of the potential for inflator rupture are taking place."

This week’s actions by Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and Daihatsu are the latest in a continuing series of occurrences in this long-running recall. Now more than seven years old, the US' National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the New York Times said yesterday, is thoroughly frustrated with its pace.

The safety agency, last month, said it hoped to speed up the pace of the airbag recall. Indeed, NHTSA hit Takata with a $14,000-a-day fine in hopes of getting speedier results from the airbag manufacturer. The fine remains in place.

Meantime, other manufacturers have indicated they are looking at the airbag issue with a view toward further recalls. The latest, Mazda, told Automotive News that it is considering a recall similar to the once announced by Honda. A spokesman for the automaker could not comment on whether it officially plans to recall vehicles before it official notifies transportation officials.

In other recall news, Fiat-Chrysler Automotive (FCA) also announced yesterday that it would be adding 62,000 Jeep Cherokees to its original February action. At that time, the automaker recalled 228,000 Jeep Cherokees due to another type of airbag failure. In this particular recall, airbags deployed without warning during extreme maneuvering. Extreme maneuvers included heavy-duty off-roading or taking very sharp turns. In either case, the Jeeps can tip one way or another, apparently causing the deployment. It was indicated the FCA models involved were built in 2014 to 2015. There have been no reports of deaths or injuries relating to this issue.

As the airbag issue continues to expand to new automaker groups, Takata in Japan is expected to be hit by multiple lawsuits by the large companies due to their reluctance to release information their flaws.