News Column

Worldwide Auto Recall Over Faulty Air Bags

April 11, 2013

Christopher Jensen

autos on barge

Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Mazda are recalling cars to fix a problem with how the air bags inflate. No injuries or deaths have been reported because of the problem.

Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Mazda are recalling 3.4 million vehicles worldwide for air bag problems, the automakers announced in Japan.

In a statement, Honda said it was not aware of any injuries related to the defect, involving passenger-side air bags.

But previously, Honda had acknowledged that it was aware of 18 injuries and two deaths linked to driver-side air bags that had deployed with too much force, sending shards of metal into the drivers.

The recalls announced in Tokyo on Thursday include about 1.73 million Toyotas, 1.14 million Hondas, 480,000 Nissans and 45,000 Mazdas.

The air bags involved in all four recalls were manufactured by Takata, whose headquarters are in Tokyo.

In the United States, Honda said it was recalling about 561,000 of its most popular vehicles because the passenger-side air bag could deploy with too much force, the same problem for which the automaker has recalled the driver's air bag on almost two million vehicles since 2008.

Chris Martin, a Honda spokesman, wrote in an e-mail that the passenger-side air bag deployed differently.

Instead of sending metal fragments directly at the driver, it "could propel metal fragments upward toward the windshield or downward toward the front passenger's footwell."

Fixing the problem will involve exchanging faulty inflators on the air bags for new ones, a job that is expected to take one to two- and-a-half hours for most models.

Takata supplies air bags and seat belts to major automakers outside Japan, including Daimler and Ford Motor, as well as to the Japanese brands.

A Takata spokesman, Hideyuki Matsumoto, said the defect had been caused by problems in the manufacturing process, Reuters reported.

In a statement, Toyota said it was still investigating about 510,000 vehicles that "may have to be inspected to locate the suspect inflaters."

Press officers for Mazda and Nissan could not immediately be reached for comment.

The recall, which is the biggest since Toyota pulled back more than seven million vehicles in October because of problems with a window power switch, underscores the risk of global supply chains as automakers increasingly rely on a handful of suppliers for common or similar parts to cut costs, Reuters reported.

For more coverage on the automotive industry, please see HispanicBusiness' Auto Channel

Source: (C) 2013 International Herald Tribune. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

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