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Defective Takata airbag claims 17th life in the U.S.

Honda confirms that the latest fatality occurred Aug. 20 in Arizona

Photo (c) saravuth-photohut - Getty Images
A defective Takata airbag has claimed a 17th life in the United States. Honda has confirmed that the recalled airbag was responsible for a fatality on August 20 in Mesa, Ariz.

Since 2014, when automotive manufacturers using the airbags initially recalled 3 million vehicles, the defective inflators -- which can explode and send tiny bits of metal flying through the inside of a vehicle, are linked to 26 deaths worldwide and 290 injuries.

Today, tens of millions of vehicles with Takata airbags -- mostly older models -- are under a recall order, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The agency said long-term exposure to high heat and humidity can cause these airbags to explode when deployed. 

Vehicles under recall for this safety defect should be repaired immediately, the agency said. Models made before 2015 should be checked for the defect with Honda and Ford vehicles most likely to have installed Takata airbags.

How to check your vehicle

Owners can check to see if their vehicle is affected by entering their vehicle identification number (VIN) here. A vehicle’s VIN can be found on the title or registration. It is also embossed into the dashboard on the driver’s side.

Honda said the vehicle involved in the Aug. 20 accident was a 2002 Honda Civic that had been under a recall since 2011 for airbag inflator replacement. The company said in this particular case it mailed 15 recall notices to the vehicle’s registered owners over a period of eight years.

But tragically, the person who died in the accident was not the registered owner of the vehicle and likely was unaware of the safety hazard the vehicle posed.

Until all of the vehicles with defective airbag inflators are repaired or removed from the road, safety officials warn that deaths and injuries may continue. Meanwhile, earlier this year Honda and Nissanrecalled another 1.3 million vehicles with Takata PSDI-5D driver airbag inflators.

Due to a manufacturing error, the companies said the inflator may not function properly or may explode in a crash that necessitates airbag deployment.

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