Urgent Safety Recall - Takata Airbags

Last year, in mid-2016, there was a nationwide recall of Takata airbags, after it was realised that the airbag design was not as safe as previously thought. All vehicle parts and products are always rigorously tested to ensure safety, however, in this instance, a safety issue, unfortunately, slipped by unnoticed.

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Part of the reason why this safety issue was not noticed until years after the airbags were first used, was because the defect is one that develops over time due to environmental factors, making it impossible to detect with initial safety checks.

Designed and created by Takata, these airbags were installed in various makes and models of vehicles from 2002 to 2015, including in many Subaru vehicles. The defect that these airbags have, and the reason for the Subaru airbag recall, is the fact that they can explode dangerously when deployed, leading to serious injuries and in some instances, even death.

A large group of vehicles made by nearly 20 different companies have been recalled due to this issue. In some vehicles the airbags are located in either the driver’s or passenger’s side at the front of the vehicle, in others, they are located on both sides. However, in Subaru vehicles, these are located on the vehicle’s passenger side only, not on the driver’s side or on both sides. This airbag recall has been named as the largest and most complex safety recall in world history - there has never been a recall of this scale seen before.

 

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The root cause of this dangerous defect is the airbag’s inflator - a metal cartridge that is full of propellant wafer, which has been known to ignite and explore with excess force. If this cartridge ruptures during a car accident, it can cause shards of metal to fly through the car, causing ‘shrapnel like’ injuries or even death.

This defect is an environmental one; the NHTSA have determined that the problem is caused by the fact that Takata airbags use ammonium nitrate-based propellent without using a chemical drying agent. This means that over time, the combination of moisture caused by hot and cold temperatures and the condensation created can impact the propellant, making it explode with excessive force. Thus turning a life-saving airbag into a potentially life-changing or deadly weapon.

Even a minor car accident could trigger the airbag’s inflator to go off, propelling sharp pieces of metal at high speeds towards the driver and passengers. Already, people have been killed and seriously injured by this defect, which is what makes this airbag recall even more important. For anyone owning a Subaru vehicle that may be affected by this car airbag recall, it is vital that their local Subaru garage is contacted immediately to ensure that their vehicle is safe. To date, over 11 people have died due to this defect, and a further 180 have been seriously injured. This airbag recall is serious and should be treated as such. It has been estimated that this recall will involve over 53 million vehicles worldwide.

Because there is such a large number of vehicles affected by this recall, combined with the fact that the defect is linked to the age of the airbag, affected vehicles are being recalled in stages.

Initially, Subaru recalled 22,548 Impreza models built between 2004 and 2007, these were the MY2004: 021344 to 045216, MY2005: 024602 to 058988, MY2006: 024801 to 057412, and MY2007: 034808 to 073605. These were recalled first, as these were the models and years of vehicles considered to be most at risk of this defect.

This recall was then followed by Subaru recalling Liberty, Outback and Tribeca vehicles - this meant that a further 75,943 vehicles were affected. These were the 2004-2009 Subaru Liberty, the 2004-2009 Subaru Outback, and the 2007-2009 Subaru Tribeca.  

The next recall was of 34,563 Forester and Impreza vehicles. This recall included the Forester 2009 and the Impreza 2008 -2009.

It is important to realise that not all vehicles created during these time periods were affected, it is only certain models. To check if a vehicle is affected, you can use the VIN search tool online and check - if you are unsure if your car is affected by this recall, we urge you to check it immediately via the Takata Subaru recall list.

Because of the nature of the defect, older vehicles have been prioritized, followed closely by vehicles from areas with extremes of temperature. This is because these airbags degrade based on environmental factors like time, temperature, and humidity.

This recall is serious, as the defect can be potentially deadly for passengers and drivers alike, which is why being certain that your Subaru vehicle is not affected is so important. Don’t leave it down to chance, if you are unsure about whether your vehicle could be affected, take the time to find out.

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Reynella Subaru

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