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Five automakers now being investigated by NHTSA for airbag woes

It appears that Toyota's renotification to owners of recalled vehicles from last year is just the tip of the iceberg for what could potentially be a much larger industry-wide recall. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is opening a preliminary evaluation investigation into roughly 1.1 million vehicles from Chrysler, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota and parts supplier Takata regarding faulty airbag inflators in several models.

NHTSA has received six reports – three directly, two from Takata and one from Toyota – of vehicles with ruptured airbag inflators from 2002-2006, which resulted in three injuries. So far, all six incidents have occurred in high humidity areas like Florida and Puerto Rico. According to Toyota's latest recall announcement, the inflators may have an improper propellant that could cause it to rupture in a crash and the bag to deploy abnormally.

This new investigation follows a previous recall from April 2013 of about 3.4 million vehicles worldwide for the airbag inflators from Takata. As Autoblog reported, Toyota jumpstarted the new situation when it found that the original list of serial numbers for the faulty part was incomplete and discovered more cars in need of replacement. Honda and Nissan told us that they were investigating whether further models would need called in again as well. Mazda told Autoblog: "Regarding the current Takata situation, we're working closely with NHTSA and investigating the situation, but nothing else to report at this time." Chrysler Group responded to us with the statement: "Chrysler Group engineers are conducting the appropriate analysis. The Company will cooperate fully with the National Highway Traffic Administration."

According to The Detroit News, the previous Takata inflator recall possibly stemmed from a manufacturing defect at the company's Washington state factory. The parts also could have been exposed to moisture at its facility in Mexico.

At this time, NHTSA's investigation is still in the early stages. It's still determining from the automakers and supplier how widespread the problem is and what models are involved. Scroll down to read the entire preliminary evaluation report. Show full PR text ODI RESUME
Investigation: PE 14-016
Date Opened: 06/11/2014
Investigator: Peter Ong
Reviewer: Scott Yon
Approver: Frank Borris
Subject: Air Bag Inflator Rupture

Manufacturer: Takata Corporation, Honda (American Honda Motor Co.), Nissan North America, Inc.,
Mazda Motor Corp., Chrysler Group LLC, Toyota Motor Corporation
Products: MY 2002-2006 models with air bag modules supplied by Takata
Population: 1,092,000 (Estimated)
Problem Description: During the course of 6 air bag inflations/deployments in FL and PR, the frontal driver or passenger air bag inflator did not function properly and ruptured.



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