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Japanese Car Makers Recall 3.4M Cars Worldwide for Airbag Problem

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Airbag diagram from Takata

Airbag diagram from Takata.

Four Japanese car makers are recalling 3.4 million vehicles worldwide because problems could cause airbags on the passenger’s side to catch on fire and injure passengers, as Kim Hjelmgard and Yuri Kageyama (the latter of Associated Press), write for USA TODAY. This is the largest recall ever for Takata’s airbags, supplied by Takata Corp. to cars made by Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Mazda. Takata is the second largest supplier of airbags and seat belts in the world, Yoko Kubota and Mari Saito report for Reuters.

The recall includes 580,000 Toyota cars in North America, 490,000 in Europe, and 320,000 in Japan. Those models affected include Corolla, Tundra, and Lexus SC produced between November 2000 and March 2004, writes USA TODAY. Reuters writes that the Yaris and Camry are also affected. Honda is recalling 1.1 million vehicles, of which about 680,000 are in North America, 270,000 in Japan, and 64,000 in Europe. The recall affects 2001-2003 Civics, 2002-2003 CR-Vs, and the 2002 Odyssey, USA TODAY writes.

Nissan has recalled 480,000 vehicles worldwide, of which 137,000 are in Japan, and affected models include the 2000-2004 Maxima, Infiniti FX, Infiniti QX4, Nissan Pathfinder, and NIssan Sentra. The Cube is also affected, Reuters writes. Mazda is recalling as many as 45,000 vehicles, USA TODAY writes.

Reuters explains the problem:

In an accident, the airbag for the front passenger seat may not inflate correctly because of a manufacturing defect in the propellant used in the airbag inflator, the companies said. As a result, there is a risk of fires starting or of passengers being injured.

Toyota, Honda and Nissan said there were no reports of injuries or deaths because of the defective airbags.

Takata said it supplies airbags and seat belts to Ford Motor Company and Daimler AG as well as the Japanese brands, and that some non-Japanese automakers were also given the faulty airbags, Reuters reports, but Takata spokesman Toyohiro Hishikawa declined to identify those brands.

Reuters writes that Toyota will replace the faulty airbag inflators with new ones, a job that is expected to take about an hour to two-and-a-half hours for most models, although a Toyota spokesperson would not say how much the total recall will cost the company. Reuters quotes Kohei Takahashi, an auto industry analyst at J.P. Morgan in Japan: “The inflators themselves are not so expensive, but there is the cost to cover for the hours spent to fix the problem.”


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