The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is ordering Takata Corp. to preserve air bag inflators that were removed during the manufacturer’s recall process. The NHTSA wants the evidence kept for both its own probe and for any air bag defect lawsuits. Dozens of injuries and at least five fatalities have been linked to the safety issue.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said that NHTSA would upgrade the Takata probe to an engineering analysis. This should help determine the actual cause of the air bag failure, as well as whether Takata refused to tell the government agency about the safety defect and violated safety laws and rules.
In the last seven years, car manufacturers have recalled some 17 million autos because they came with Takata air bags. The safety devices are at risk of rupturing upon deployment, which may cause them to spit out sharp fragments that can lead to serious injury or prove fatal. Just last year, BMW, Honda, Chrysler, Mazda, and Ford issued national recalls over defective Takata air bags located on the driver side of many of their vehicles. Toyota, Subaru, General Motors, Nissan, and Mitsubishi later joined these manufacturers in recalling autos with possibly defective passenger-side air bags. The affected vehicles were located in geographic areas that experience high absolute humidity on a regular basis.