Will the Takata bankruptcy cause airbag repair delays?


Rita Sparks is a retired teacher. We’re getting ready to take a ride in her rental car. Toyota is paying the rental fees.

But Rita’s still paying $219 a month on her recalled 2011 Toyota Corolla. That car has been sitting at a local dealership. She’s been waiting 11 months to have the Takata front passenger airbag inflator replaced.

“How fair is this that I’m paying for a car that I can’t even drive?” asked Sparks. “It just seems like such an injustice.”

42 million vehicles recalled across 33 different car brands

The Takata recall is the biggest auto recall in U.S. history. It impacts 42 million vehicles across 33 different automobile brands.

According to Takata, the propellant in the inflators can degrade after long exposure to high humidity and fluctuating high temperatures.

The degraded propellant can cause the inflator to rupture. That can spew metal shrapnel through the airbag , striking the occupants in the car. The faulty inflators have been linked to at least 16 deaths and 180 injuries worldwide.

No additional repair delays anticipated

Takata, the Auto Alliance, which represents car manufacturers, and the National Automobile Dealers Association, say they don’t anticipate any repair delays due to the Takata bankruptcy.

But repairing cars is still taking a long time. According to the federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, only 38 percent of recalled vehicles have been fixed. So, millions of car owners, like Rita, are still waiting for repairs.

“There were a couple of days when I just sat down and cried,” said Sparks. “Because this car being imprisoned has made me feel my own powerlessness.”

NHTSA prioritizing repairs based on the age of your car

NHTSA says it’s prioritizing Takata airbag repairs.

That’s because older inflators in cars exposed to prolonged heat and humidity pose a much greater risk of rupturing.

In Rita’s case, Toyota has had to repair cars that date back to 2002. So, they get a higher priority than later model cars.

Meantime, Toyota told Rita that her car may be repaired in September.

Some new cars are on the recall list

By the way, if you’re shopping for a new or used car, keep in mind that certain models of 2017 and 2016 cars are even on recall list.

Be sure to check this list of recalled cars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The car you’re considering buying may be listed.

If you have any questions about your particular car, be sure to call your manufacturer’s toll-free consumer line.

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