SAN ANTONIO - Only about half of the air bags that are part of the biggest auto recall in U.S. history have been replaced.
Nineteen different automakers have been affected by Takata air bags with defective inflators, which can turn the air bags into miniature shrapnel bombs. So far, nearly 50 million air bags have been recalled.
The biggest auto recall in U.S. history began in 2008 and is not even close to being over.
Faulty inflators in Takata air bags have led to 15 deaths and hundreds of injuries in the U.S. alone. And more than 26 million potentially deadly air bags still need to be replaced.
“The highest-risk areas are places with a lot of humidity and warm temperatures. Think Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas, Louisiana and parts of California,” said David Friedman, who was acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration when the recall went nationwide.
Friedman is now the director of the cars and product policy for Consumers Union.
“Manufacturers need to do more to help people understand how deadly these air bags are. But at the end of the day, it’s your responsibility to get your car fixed right away if it's got one of these defective Takata air bags,” Friedman said.
Finding out if a vehicle is part of a recall is simple.
“Look for your VIN on the lower left-hand side of your windshield or on your door jamb and plug it into NHTSA's website at www.NHTSA.gov/recalls and it will let you know if your vehicle is on the list,” said Jen Stockburger, with Consumer Reports
Drivers can contact their dealership to arrange a free replacement. The list of recalled cars continues to grow, so even if drivers have checked their vehicle identification number before, it may be a good idea to check again.
Ford and Mazda have both issued warnings for drivers to stop using their 2006 Ford Ranger and Mazda B-series pickups. They suggest having the vehicles towed to a dealer to replace the air bags.
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