Air bag recall questions answered


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The recent bankruptcy filing of air bag maker Takata has left millions of drivers with lots of questions.

Questions about the air bag replacements that are part of the largest automotive recall in history.

Drivers want to know if the bankruptcy filing will affect the availability of replacement air bags and if they’ll have to end up paying for the repairs now.

Even before the bankruptcy filing, drivers were finding replacements were going to take some time.

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The owner of a Subaru that has been under air bag recall since March told CBS North Carolina her dealer says it’ll be at least six months before they can change out the air bag.

And the recalls aren’t over.

The owner of a 2008 Toyota told us he just got an air bag recall notice or his Scion XB on Tuesday.

Takata recalled tens of millions of air bags because of a defective inflation device that could shoot metal fragments into a person when the air bag deploys.

The defective air bags have been linked to 16 deaths and 180 injuries world-wide and have resulted in at least one lawsuit.

It’s estimated at least 26 million air bags still need to be replaced.

An analyst with Autotrader.com says the bankruptcy filing was not unexpected, and that consumers shouldn’t worry.

“The bankruptcy of Takata should not affect consumers all that much,” says Michelle Krebs who is an analyst with Autotrader.com.

That’s because the Chinese-owned Key Safety Systems of Michigan has purchased Takata’s assets.

“They intend to keep the Takata plants operating and keep employees because they’ve got to keep making air bags and replacement parts for the ones that were recalled,” says Krebs.

But, there’s a limited number of replacement air bags available as Krebs explained.

“Automakers have moved to other suppliers but there aren’t that many suppliers. They also only have only so much capacity to make replacement air bags and they’re making them for new cars too,” she says.

Cars included in the recall from southern states have been given higher priority for the fix, because experts say, the excessive heat and humidity in this part of the country could cause those air bags to fail more readily.

But, even if you’re in a priority replacement category, vehicle owners still have to follow procedures.

“They need to get in line for a replacement air bag; they need to call their dealer,” says Krebs.

But, as the recall of defective air bags expands—the wait for replacements will expand too. The good news for you is, the replacement of the defective air bag is free to consumers. The cost will be borne by automakers and/orTakata.

If you worried about whether your car is under the air bag recall or any other recall and you don’t know about it, you can go to this link.

You can check on any kind of recall by entering your vehicle identification number into the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s search engine.

Email CBS North Carolina’s Steve Sbraccia if you have a consumer issue.

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