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Takata Aware of Airbag Defect Since 1995

Bonnie Harp2 years ago

According to the Associated Press (AP), The New York Times reviewed Takata patent documents that indicate the company has been aware of the airbag defect that has been associated with at least five deaths and multiple injuries for years.

About the Takata Air Bag Recall

  • In April 2013, Takata announced malfunction of the airbag inflator that may cause the airbag to deploy incorrectly, causing a safety hazard of metal shards shooting at the passenger(s).
  • Over 16 million vehicles have been recalled from 11 automakers around the world.
  • Takata is suspected to have been aware of the defect for over a decade before reporting it to a federal safety agency.
  • The airbags were initially suspected to deteriorate and cause a safety hazard in highly humid areas.
  • Tension is rising between Takata and The National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTA) since the supplier resisted a mandated recall expansion.
  • The NHTA and U.S. Department of Justice are currently investigating the allegedly delayed airbag recall.

Takata Patent Documents

The New York Times reviewed patent documents submitted by Takata concerning the airbag defect that date back decades—all the way to 1995. The 1995 patent application expresses Takata’s concerns about the malfunction of the compound within airbag propellant, ammonium nitrate. The patent outlines Takata’s worry that the compound casing reacted to temperature changes, noting that it may explode under humidity.  Although the company continues to state that the compound is not dangerous, documents indicate their exploration of its vulnerability to high temperature.

Takata has also stated that they have continued to investigate the root of the airbag malfunction. However, they are contradicted by patent documents from 2007 that warn the compounds susceptibility to “expand and contract and chance shape resulting in growth and cracking,” providing a safety hazard with the risk that the inflator could “blow up because of excess pressure generated.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is taking allegations of the recall delay very seriously, requiring that Takata provide a history of any changes made to the compound in the past two decades. 

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