PhotoAnother 3.1 million cars are being recalled because they are equipped with the Takata airbag inflators that can explode when they deploy and send shrapnel-like metal fragments into the passenger compartment. 

The latest recalls are among more than 42 million announced since the problem was identified a few years ago. Takata, teetering on bankruptcy, reportedly faces a $1 billion fine in the United States and a federal grand jury has indicted three former Takata executives on conspiracy charges.

The problem has been linked to 11 deaths and hundreds of injuries in the United States. On Tuesday, Honda said a Takata airbag blew up in one of its cars in Japan, injuring the driver.

It's been estimated that there are still about 70 million cars in the United States equipped with the defective airbags, like the one that killed Huma Hanif, 17, fatally injured by shrapnel from the airbag when her Honda Civic rear-ended another car at low speed in Houston.

Airbags in older cars like Hanif's, about 300,000 of them, are the biggest problem -- they have a 50 percent chance of exploding, safety officials say.

"Abysmal" recall effort

Critics have said the recall process is much too slow. In November 2016, Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, called the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's recall rate "abysmal" and have called on NHTSA to accelerate its efforts.

"Takata has lied to cover up problems with its airbags and NHTSA has aided this malfeasance with an inept and illogical recall process. NHTSA’s recall rate is abysmal and it is in part responsible for this most recent death," they said in a statement after Huma Hanif's death became the tenth attributed to Takata airbags in the U.S.

Outgoing federal highway safety chief Mark Rosekind has said that automakers have the "ultimate responsibility" for replacing the airbags, no matter what happens to Takata, Reuters reported. Whether the Trump Administration sticks with that position isn't yet clear. 

The latest series of recalls includes the following makes:

  • Volkswagen
  • Honda
  • Nissan
  • Jaguar Land Rover
  • Subaru
  • Daimler
  • Ford
  • Tesla
  • BMW
  • Ferrari
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Mazda
  • Toyota
  • McLaren

Recall notices for individual models will be published over the next several days.

What to do

To find out if your car is included in this -- or any other -- recall, jot down your VIN number and go to SaferCar.gov. This is the only way to know for sure whether your car is on the recall list. Even when manufacturers specify the year and model of recalled cars, it doesn't necessarily include all cars in that group. 

Automakers will notify owners by mail and sometimes by other methods when a recall is issued. If parts are not immediately available -- as is frequently the case -- another notification is supposed to be sent when parts are available. Dealers are unable to perform recalls until they have the parts in hand.


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