Takata Airbag Recall Expands

Takata Airbag Recall  ExpandsTakata Airbag Recall  Expands

The automotive world is in turmoil over the massive airbag recall covering millions of vehicles. Vehicle authorities in Iran have not yet picked up on the problem with many of the affected vehicles imported from the United Arab Emirates and other Persian Gulf littoral states liable for the widespread fault, but some dealers are finally getting a grasp of the issue.

The problem involves defective inflator and propellant that may deploy improperly in the event of a crash, shooting metal fragments into vehicle occupants.  There is no exact data on how many vehicles are affected in Iran, but 7 million have been recalled worldwide, suggesting the same models in Iran may also be faulty.

Initially, only six makes were affected when Takata announced in April 2013, but a Toyota recall in June this year was followed by new admissions from Takata. In July, the United States' NHTSA forced additional regional recalls in high-humidity areas, including Florida, Hawaii and the US Virgin Islands, to gather removed parts and send them to Takata for review.

Another major recall issued on October 20 expanded the affected vehicles across several brands. Toyota said it would begin to replace defective passenger-side inflators starting October 25; if parts are unavailable, however, it has advised its dealers to disable the airbags and affix "Do Not Sit Here" messages to the dashboard.

 While Toyota says there have been no related injuries or deaths involving its vehicles, a New York Times report in September, found at least 139 reported across all automakers injuries.

In particular, there have been at least two deaths and 30 injuries in Honda vehicles. According to the Times, Honda and Takata allegedly have known about it since 2004 but failed to notify customers of the problem.

Takata first said that propellant chemicals were mishandled and improperly stored during assembly, which supposedly caused the metal airbag inflators to burst open due to excessive pressure inside. In July, the company blamed humid weather and spurred additional recalls.

According to documents reviewed by Reuters, rust, bad welds and even chewing gum dropped into at least one inflator are also at fault. The same documents show that in 2002, Takata's plant in Mexico allowed a defect rate that was "six to eight times above" acceptable limits, or roughly 60 to 80 defective parts for every 1 million airbag inflators shipped. The company's study has yet to reach a final conclusion and report the findings to NHTSA.

Dubai 24/7 reported in May that Al-Futtaim Motors, exclusive distributor of Toyota in the UAE, planned to start a service campaign for 27,816 vehicles in the Persian Gulf country. Nissan Middle East (UAE) said it will recall Sentra, Sunny, Pathfinder X-Trail and popular Patrol for models between 2003 and 2007 without providing the details of the number of vehicles affected.

Many vehicles were resold to Iran through grey market channels. Due to the small-scale car dealers bringing small numbers of the vehicles through grey import channels, there is no number on how many of the vehicles may be liable for the fault.

Toyota's UAE representative made a statement regarding the issue:

 “As part of an ongoing investigation into Takata inflator issues, the Nissan Group will expand its ongoing Takata Passenger Airbag Inflator Recall Campaign to include additional MY2004-MY2007 vehicles equipped with “SPI” inflators. Nissan plans to begin notifying customers in June. Nissan dealers will test the subject inflators and replace the inflator as necessary,” Nissan Middle East said in a statement to Khaleej Times on Wednesday.

Financial Tribune contacted Irtoya, Iran's official Toyota dealer, which initially said, "There are no problems with our cars". However, the call was transferred to the technical department where one technician said they had already contacted Toyota Japan about the issue, and would announce the date of their recall soon.

Irtoya said they would be only recalling the 2006-2007 Corolla sedan. The company had not stated which airbag they would replace the Takata one with.  

Honda's Iranian dealer, Family Motors, specifically stated that they would not be doing a recall as all of their vehicles they import are from 2013 onwards and "are not affected by the large recall."

The issue so far is limited in the Iranian market, with many car dealers unlikely to take responsibility for the issue. Vehicle recalls in the Iranian auto market are rare with customers having to change faulty parts at their own expense.