After the second round of Congressional hearings passed on the Takata airbag inflator ruptures and recalls, there are several takeaways that are important for observers to catch. Though there have been no new major revelations or information added, there were several issues that stood out in this hearing.
Consider the following insights:
- A main cause of the explosions has not been identified (and it may never be possible to identify one).
- Takata claims it will cut back on its productions of ammonium nitrate (thought to be a root cause).
- The driver’s side replacement inflator given in previous recalls has the same problem as previous inflators.
For those worrying about their recently replaced inflators, reports suggest that they will not go bad for another seven years; however, whenever supplies are available, you should go in to your dealership. By checking weekly or on a regular basis with your dealership, you can make sure you don’t miss important updates. Unfortunately for some, it appears the airbag defect could take months, even years to resolve.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Steps in With Recalls
According to the NHTSA’s new administrator, there will likely be no more regional recalls in the future. Soon, the NHTSA will be coordinating a massive, national recall that will include 11-automakers and 34 million vehicles. This will be the first of its kind in the history of the NHTSA. The administration is also pushing for more funding, considering the major task ahead and the minimal adjustment in budget in the last 10 years.
While this may seem like a very positive step, especially for consumers seeking more structure and openness when it comes to vehicle recalls, the lack of action prior to this from the NHTSA cannot be overlooked. For years, the NHTSA has failed to properly regulate and track the effectiveness of recalls. It took them too long to notice the issue and take action against manufacturers who had poor records. With their relaxed approach to defect and recall enforcement, issues like the Takata airbag inflators escalate until they receive national attention.
Hopefully, the second Congressional hearing demonstrates that all parties involved are ready to make some changes—whether that relates to automakers who don’t enforce quality control on suppliers or the NHTSA for not taking a stronger and more effective approach to protecting consumers.