Fiat Chrysler Automotives (FCA) has now released a recall for the 2014-16 Jeep Wrangler and the 2014-15 Chrysler 300 to be included in the continuing Takata airbag recall effort. The cars impacted by these recalls are equipped with defective airbags on the passenger-side, despite the safer ‘beta’ ranking.
It has been found that over the course of time, humidity and high temperatures can trigger degradation of the inflator propellant. If the car is involved in an accident that activates the airbag and the degradation has already taken place, the housing on the metal inflator could explode due to great internal pressure, and pieces of metal shrapnel can be shot into the cabin.
If the airbag is defective, vehicle inhabitants can have a high chance of experiencing severe harm or death. So far, 22 fatalities have occurred across the world plus more than 200 severe wounds due to the Takata recall.
To date, 1168 Chrysler 300 (LX) vehicles have been recalled (2014-15), and 5562 Jeep Wranglers (JK; 2014-16). Originally, just six different makes were affected when the defect was first revealed back in April of 2013. Other vehicle manufacturers impacted by the Takata disaster involve Toyota, Subaru, Mercedes-Benz, Mazda, Land Rover, Jaguar, Honda, General Motors, and BMW.
More recalls are being required in places that have high levels of humidity, such as Hawaii, Florida, and neighboring islands to have faulty parts sent back to Takata for inspection. The vehicles that are older and located in hotter regions will be repaired first, as these inflators have a higher likelihood of rupturing and sending flying metal shrapnel through the cabin of the vehicle. Injuries reported due to the metal pieces hitting people have been said to resemble gunshot wounds to the face.
When the catastrophe first occurred, Takata announced that propellant combination chemicals were not handled correctly and were stored incorrectly, which triggers the metal inflators of the airbag to explode because of a great deal of pressure within the unit.
Takata attempted to blame the weather in high-humid regions. However, it has been revealed that poor welding and rust can also be attributed to the defect. Also, in 2002, the Takata manufacturer in Mexico permitted a defect rate of 6-8 times more than suitable limits, equivalent to between 60-80 faulty units. It has not yet been determined and reported to the NHTSA what the final decision and findings are in regards to the primary cause.
The company supposedly was aware of the safety issues as early as 2004, and undisclosed tests were conducted after hours to look into the frightening issues. Serious problems with the airbag inflators were discovered, and engineers at Takata immediately started to look for a remedy. Rather than alerting federal safety supervisors and implementing a solution, executives at Takata instructed the engineers to eliminate the physical proof and to delete all data. These actions took place four entire years before the issue was addressed appropriately and was made public knowledge.