Kelley Uustal Trial Attorney
January 24, 2020

Honda, Toyota Recall Millions of Cars Over Airbag Hazards

Japan automakers Toyota and Honda announced separately Tuesday that they are recalling over six million vehicles – 5.3 million in the U.S. – to address two separate airbag safety concerns.

Honda is recalling 2.4 million U.S. vehicles and 300,000 Canadian cars for potential airbag defects. The recall follows a December 2019 report to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) by Japanese airbag supplier Takata Corp. who noted a risk for drivers.

The Honda callbacks contain potentially defective Takata airbag inflators that lack appropriate seals. Improper sealing may allow moisture or air to leak into the inflator and degrade the propellant – disrupting airbag deployment.

Airbags may explode, inflate slowly, or fail to inflate all together. Honda mentioned three cases of exploding inflators in its statement – two in Japan and one in Texas.

The flawed Takata airbags under this recall do not contain the deadly ammonium nitrate propellant involved in previous Takata airbags blamed for killing at least 25 people that prompted the biggest auto recall on record. Instead, the current airbags under recall use a non-azide propellant.

In a separate statement Tuesday, Toyota announced it will recall 3.4 million vehicles – 2.9 million in the U.S. – to address a potentially defective airbag / seatbelt control device. Toyota said vehicles containing ZF-TRW electronic control units (ECUs) may experience “incomplete or non-deployment of the airbags and/or seat belt pretensioners.”

Properly functioning ECUs help activate airbag inflation and seat belt constriction during an accident. Defective ZF-TRW ECUs can reportedly fail in the presence of noise interference, such as electrical noise generated during a crash.

In March 2017, NHTSA started investigating the ECUs made by TRW Automotive Holdings, acquired later by ZF Friedrichshafen. In April 2019, the agency expanded its investigation to cover over 12 million U.S. cars, all 2010 – 2019 models from various automakers, including Toyota, Kia, Fiat Chrysler, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, and Honda.

In April, NHTSA discovered at least one fatal crash involving electronic issues with airbag deployment, reporting that the problem could be the cause of up to eight deaths.

Recent Honda Airbag Recall List 2020

Current Honda recalls involving potentially defective airbags include 1996 – 2003 Honda and Acura models:

  • 1996 – 2000 Honda Civic coupes / sedans
  • 1997 – 1998 Acura 2.2CL
  • 1997 – 1998 Honda EV Plus
  • 1997 – 1999 Acura 3.0CL
  • 1997 – 2001 Honda CR-V
  • 1998 – 1999 Acura 2.3CL
  • 1998 – 2000 Honda Accord coupes / sedans
  • 1998 – 2001 Honda Odyssey
  • 1998 – 2003 Acura 3.5RL
  • 1999 – 2001 Acura 3.2TL
  • 2001 – 2002 Acura 3.2CL
  • 2001 – 2002 Acura MDX

Honda is asking owners of potential recalls to apply for inspections. The auto manufacturer says it may not be able to begin inspections or repairs for approximately 12 months.

Recent Toyota Airbag Recall List 2020

Current Toyota recalls involving potentially defective airbags and seatbelts include Toyota model years 2011 – 2018:

  • 2011 – 2013 Toyota Matrix
  • 2011 – 2019 Toyota Corolla
  • 2012 – 2018 Toyota Avalon
  • 2013 – 2018 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Vehicles (HV)

Toyota stated it will notify affected U.S. vehicle owners in March 2020. Recalls will involve inspection and possible installation of noise filters to decrease sensor communication errors.

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