Manufacturers, regulators expect Takata airbag replacement to last through 2019

Millions of drivers in limbo after Takata recall
(Corey Schmidt | WBTV)
(Corey Schmidt | WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Millions of car owners across the country have been left waiting for a defective airbag to be replaced in their car as manufacturers and dealers work to find a way to quickly address the problem.

Roughly 68 million airbag inflators have been recalled across the United States over concerns the brand of airbag used in the vehicle, Takata, could rupture and injure or kill the driver.

So far, eleven deaths and hundreds of injuries have been linked to the defective airbags.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration recalled up to an additional 40 million vehicles because of concerns with the airbags in early May, bringing the total number of recalled airbag inflators to 68 million.

Federal regulators have yet to specify the types and numbers of vehicles that are impacted by the latest recall.

Prior to the May recall, manufacturers were already working to replace 28 million airbag inflators. Among the car brands hit hardest by the airbag defect is Honda Motors, which makes the Honda and Acura brand of car.

Prior to the May recall, Honda was working to replace more than 12 million Takata airbags in more than 8 million vehicles (some vehicles have more than one Takata airbag in them).

One of those vehicles on the recall list is owned by WBTV Consumer Investigator Kristen Miranda.

Miranda got a letter in the mail in March saying her car was being recalled because of the faulty airbag.

"I was a little surprised because I felt like I was past that place that I might get one," Miranda said. "Oh I hadn't gotten one of those letters yet, I'm sure my car is fine."

At first, the longtime consumer investigator did not connect the words on the letter that came in the mail with the potentially deadly consequences that had already played out across the country, including in a nearby South Carolina community.

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"I thought well I'll just let this go for a little while because they've got this. And then I thought, wait a minute, that's not what I would tell other people to do," Miranda said.

She decided to call the dealership where she purchased her car. They told her it would likely be months before the replacement part for her car arrived.

On its website, Honda said it is replacing 20,000 Takata airbags every day. According to the company, Takata airbags had been replaced in nearly fifty percent of its vehicles recalled before May 2016.

In a statement announcing the May round of Takata recalls, NHTSA said it would likely take until 2019 before Takata airbags are replaced in all of the recalled vehicles.

Once Miranda called her dealership, she was able to ask for a rental car. Honda is paying its dealers to provide rental cars to customers affected by the recall.

If you think your car could be included in the recall, you can check its VIN on the NHTSA website.

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