A 52-year-old South Carolina man became the most-recent victim to die after the Takata airbag in his 2006 Ford Ranger pickup truck exploded and a piece of metal shrapnel "pierced his neck." The man's death occurred in December of last year and is the ninth such death to occur in the U.S. that is being linked to the dangerous and defective airbags.
To date, the company has taken action to recall some 29 million airbag inflators in the U.S. alone. That number, however, may soon increase substantially as documents recently surfaced which detail that as many as 120 million inflators, which contain the "same volatile chemical - ammonium nitrate,” were used in vehicles that were subsequently sold to U.S. consumers.
Last November, in a settlement with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Takata agreed to pay $70 million in penalties and to stop using ammonium nitrate in its airbag inflators by the year 2018. Federal regulators continue to take steps to determine if additional recalls are necessary.
Internal Takata documents show that many of the defective inflators were manufactured at three of the company's plants; one in Mexico and two in the U.S. A review of several emails, memos and internal reports detail ongoing manufacturing problems at the plants including cases in which inflator casings were found to be improperly welded, "metal shavings were left inside some inflator parts," and parts were damaged and bent. These types of defects are believed to allow moisture to build up inside the inflators which can then cause the ammonium nitrate propellant to explode.
From defective airbags and steering components to tires and ignition switches, individuals who have suffered injuries or who have lost a loved one due to a defective auto part; would be wise to discuss their case with an attorney.
Source: Reuters, "Exclusive: Up to 90 million more Takata airbag inflators may face U.S. recalls," Paul Lienert and David Shepardson, Feb. 22, 2016