The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a consumer advisory extending an ongoing warning about defective airbags in millions of vehicles. The NHTSA wants owners of many Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Chrysler, Ford and GM cars and trucks to immediately replace faulty airbags manufactured by Takata.
Recalls regarding Takata airbags began more than a year ago and are still taking place, according to the NHTSA statement. The number of vehicles affected is about 7.8 million.
The urgency of the warning
The airbags could fail to deploy properly in the case of an accident or could randomly explode, harming the driver or passengers, The New York Times reported. The problem stems from faulty propellant in the air bag. It's unstable and if it wrongly deploys, it can send metal debris into the car. The defective safety equipment has been linked to three deaths and more than 100 injuries.
Geographic region affects risk
So far, many of the actual incidents have taken place in Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana and Hawaii - particularly areas in many of those states near the Gulf of Mexico.
"Responding to these recalls, whether old or new, is essential to personal safety and it will help aid our ongoing investigation into Takata airbags and what appears to be a problem related to extended exposure to consistently high humidity and temperatures," said NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman. "However, we're leaving no stone unturned in our aggressive pursuit to track down the full geographic scope of this issue."
What should consumers do?
Owners of the above vehicles can check if their specific car is part of the recalls by reviewing the NHTSA's comprehensive list or searching their vehicle manufacturer's website or the NHTSA's database with their vehicle identification number.
If a car does need to go to the shop for repairs, consumers should contact the manufacturer or their auto insurance provider to see if rental car coverage is available - an option GM previously gave to owners of vehicles involved in a different recall, the Times reported.