A global phenomenon: The Takata airbag recall
If you have been reading articles posted on our website, you are familiar with car recalls that have impacted owners who purchased automobiles from Volkswagen or Toyota. In both recalls, the companies held responsible were the car manufacturers. Such is not the case for all car recalls.
In order to make a profit producing cars for global markets, automobile manufacturers must design cars that can be assembled efficiently at a cost effective price. Recognizing that cars today require thousands of components to meet the standards of discerning consumers, these manufacturers outsource parts manufacturing to suppliers. These suppliers often work independently of the car manufacturers, sending the finished products to the assembly lines where the components are added. Problems in oversight occur if the components are developed outside of the car manufacturer’s supervision, requiring suppliers to maintain their own quality control. When this system works, cars are produced efficiently in a way that creates good profits for manufacturers and good deals for car buyers.
When the system fails, drivers can be hurt or killed. Such has been the case with Takata car products. The company is responsible for the largest automobile recall in U.S. history. As a result of a breakdown of chemicals located in the component, the airbags can explode with extreme force during a car impact. When the airbag ruptures, metal shrapnel can spray into the cab of the car, lacerating drivers and passengers. If this combustion sounds deadly, it is. 13 people have been killed worldwide and more than 100 have been injured.
Responding to reports, Honda notified its customers in 2008. Currently, the airbag recall has been expanded 20 times. The reason for the breadth of the recall effort is due to the fact that Takata is a main supplier of airbag components; more than 17 car manufacturers have sold cars with parts designed by Takata. Experts predict that it will take at least three years for enough airbags to be made to replace the flawed components. This time period factors in multiple manufacturing companies working together to produce better products for the 100 million cars impacted.
Here are lessons car owners can take away from the Takata debacle:
1. Register your vehicle with your dealership so that you can be contacted should your car need repairs. If you move, provide your new contact information.
2. Respond quickly when you learn of a recall. Car owners who waited to get their airbags fixed will be waiting for years before their components will be able to be replaced.
3. Review recalls online. Manufacturers may be slow to send out recall information via traditional correspondence. Recalls can be updated in a minute on the internet.
Individuals who have been injured as a result of the faulty airbag design may have legal recourse. Those consulting with a knowledgeable attorney may learn of the best course of action to take.