Takata Corporation has announced the recall of an additional 3.3 million vehicles, which could have defective airbags. Since 2016, the Japanese company recalled an estimated 34 million vehicles due to a possible malfunction — which causes airbags to violently explode. According to the United States Department of Transportation, the faulty airbags have caused more than 180 injuries and at least 20 deaths.
As reported by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the massive recall will be announced in several phases, which began in May 2016 and are expected to conclude in December 2019. The NHTSA said the total number of vehicles affected by the recall could exceed 60 million.
The recall, which is being called “one of the largest and most complex… in U.S. history,” was prompted by reports of airbags inflating unexpectedly and causing serious injury and a number of deaths.
As reported by CBS News, the Takata Corporation’s airbags were manufactured using ammonium nitrate as a propellant. Unfortunately, the chemical proved to be unstable in certain environments.
Ideally, the impact of a crash would trigger the ammonium nitrate to explode at a controlled rate and inflate the airbag without causing injury to a vehicle’s occupants. However, the manufacturers did not anticipate the how volatile the chemical would become when exposed to changes in temperature and humidity.
After investigating reports of airbags exploding unexpectedly, and far more violently than expected, the Takata Corporation discovered the ammonium nitrate was breaking down when exposed to high temperatures and humidity.
Under those conditions, the chemical propellant burned much faster than anticipated and caused a buildup of pressure inside the propellant container. As a result, the containers violently exploded and some vehicle occupants were injured or killed.
According to the NHTSA, the phases of the recall were determined by the age of the vehicle and the region where the vehicle is located. Older vehicles located in hot and humid regions were included in the first recall. Whereas newer vehicles located in cooler and less humid regions will be recalled during a later phase.
A complete list of vehicles included in the Takata Corporation recall is available on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. As the recall is not complete, the website will be updated as new vehicles are added to the list.