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Air Bag Defects Lead to Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Mazda Recalls of 3.4 Motor Vehicles

In the largest recall so far this year, four Japanese automakers are recalling 3.4 million motor vehicles globally because of defective air bags. Toyota is recalling about 1.3 million autos (including its Sequoia, Lexus SC430, Tundra, and Corolla models that were made between 2001 and 2003), Honda is recalling approximately 1.14 million motor vehicles (CR-V, Odyssey, and Civic), and Nissan is calling back about 480,000 cars (Cube, Maxima, and others), while Mazda is recalling about 45,500 vehicles. Approximately 1.3 million of the cars affected by this safety issue are in the US. The vehicles were made between 2000 and 2004. No related injuries or deaths have been reported to date.

The faulty air bags came from Takata, which supplies seat belts and airbags to large automakers in Japan and abroad. The safety issue involves flawed inflators, which could cause a fire and possible burn injuries or prevent the air bag from deploying properly, including it potentially shooting out sharp metal particles upon inflation.

Also impacted by this air bag defect are General Motors, which, according to the Los Angeles Times, is recalling approximately 55,000 2003 Pontiac Vibe autos. BMW may also add some of its vehicles to the recall list. Per the New York Times, such a massive recall highlights the problem that can arise when manufacturers rely on just one supplier for auto parts.

Air Bag Defects
An air bag defect is a serious safety issue that can result in injuries and deaths. Vehicle occupants need airbags to protect them from impact during a serious car crash. That said, the safety devices also needs to deploy correctly, meaning that they need to inflate at the right time (not too early and not too late) and in the right way, and they shouldn’t deploy when the collision is below the manufacture-designated impact threshold. An airbag also shouldn’t inflate so forcefully that it causes serious impact injuries to the vehicle occupant.

An airbag that deploys when there is no accident may even cause a car crash, as the safety device, when inflated, does obstruct the driver’s view and ability to operate the vehicle. Metal parts emitting from the safety device can obviously cause painful cuts, bruises, and possibly even eye injuries and disfigurement to the face.

Common Airbag Defects:
• Defective crash sensors
• Aggressive inflators
• Airbags that deploy directly at the occupant rather than first going upward
• Lack of internal tether straps (that are supposed to shape the airbag into a flat pillow rather than a round basketball)

Airbag Injuries May Include:
• Traumatic brain injury
• Limb loss
• Shock
• Spinal cord injuries
• Head injuries
• Neck injuries
• Thoracic trauma
• Concussions
• Blindness
• Hearing loss
• Concussions
• Allergic reactions
• Shock
• Facial injuries
• Lacerations
• Death

Another safety issue involving airbags that our auto products liability lawyers haven’t discussed before is the danger involving the toxic chemicals that are emitted during deployment. The chemicals, Potassium Nitrate and Sodium Azide, need to be present so that the correct chain reaction to inflate the airbag takes place. However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t cause serious side effects should deployment happen incorrectly. Possible complications may include restlessness, fast breathing, headache, weakness, dizziness, red eyes, vomiting, nausea, coughing, nose drainage, blisters, and skin burns.

Contact our air bag defect law firm today.

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