Takata airbags: New cars being sold with defective airbags; recall expanded again

A U.S. lawmaker says four automobile companies – Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, Volkswagen and Mitsubishi – have continued to sell new vehicles equipped with air bags that are the subject of the largest automotive safety recall in American history.

The companies confirmed that they have continued to sell the vehicles equipped with recalled Takata manufactured airbags, a practice that is not illegal. However, the vehicles must be recalled by 2018.

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The news came as word of yet another Takata recall -- nearly 4.4 million more vehicles -- was announced Thursday.

Here are the cars recalled Thursday:

GENERAL MOTORS: Certain 2007-2008 Cadillac Escalade, Escalade ESV, Escalade EXT, Chevrolet Avalanche, Silverado 1500, Suburban, Tahoe, GMC Sierra 1500, Yukon, and Yukon XL. 2007-2011 Cadillac Escalade, Escalade ESV and Escalade EXT, Chevrolet Avalanche, Silverado 1500, Suburban and Tahoe, GMC Sierra 1500, Yukon and Yukon XL vehicles. 2009-2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 and 3500 and GMC Sierra 2500 and 3500.

FORD: Certain 2007-2011 Ford Ranger pickups; 2006-2011 Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln Zephyr/MKZ vehicles; 2007-2010 Ford Edge, Lincoln MKX vehicles; 2005-2006 Ford GT vehicles and 2005-2011 Ford Mustang.

VOLKSWAGEN: Certain 2004-2008 Audi A4 and 2005-2011 Audi A6 cars.

DAIMLER VANS: Certain 2010-2011 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, 2009-2011 Freightliner Sprinter, and 2009 Dodge Sprinter vans.

JAGUAR-LAND ROVER: Certain model year 2007-2011 Land Rover Range Rover SUVs and 2009-2011 Jaguar XF cars.

BMW: Certain 2007-2011 X5 xDrive30i, X5 xDrive35i, X5 xDrive48i, X5 xDrive50i and X5M vehicles. 2009-2011 X5 xDrive35d, 2008-2011 X6 xDrive35i, X6 xDrive50i and X6 M vehicles, and 2010-2011 X6 ActiveHybrid vehicles.

MERCEDES-BENZ: Certain 2008-2011 C300 Sedan, C300 4matic Sedan, C350 Sedan, C63 AMG Sedan vehicles. 2010-2011 GLK350, GLK350 4-Matic and E350 Coupe vehicles. 2011 SLS AMG, E350 Convertible, E550 Coupe and E550 Convertible vehicles.

The recall that sat at some 40 million vehicles had already been expanded last month when Takata announced an additional 35 million to 40 million inflators would be added to the recall list.

The airbags have been blamed for at least 13 deaths. The inflators for the bags have been found to have a defect that causes the airbags to explode with excessive force, sending metal shards into the person sitting in front of them. Manufacturers are telling customers it could take more than a year to get the airbags replaced because of a shortage of replacement parts.

Regulators say replacing the airbags could take until the end of 2019 to complete.

The models and number of cars and trucks included in last month's expanded recall were not immediately released, but will be posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website in the coming weeks, according to officials.

Here’s what we know now about the original recall and what you need to do to find out if your vehicle is involved.

Is my car affected by the recall?

Here's how you check – first, get your car's VIN number. That identification number is located on the lower driver-side corner of the windshield. It will also be on your car's registration form.  Go to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration site (click here), and type in that number.

What do I do next?

If your car is on the list, contact a dealership that repairs your make and model – there will be no cost to you to make these  repairs.

Should I just try to explode the bag myself?

No. Do not do that.

I’m scared to drive it, what do I do?

Not a lot of options here. If your car is on the list for passenger-side air bag problems, don’t let anyone sit in the passenger seat.  If you can, let the tallest person drive the  car. Shorter people have to sit closer to the steering wheel, thus the airbag.

I hear it’s taking a long time to get the repair, why?

The answer is sheer numbers. It may take weeks, months or even years for the replacement part to be installed because of the numbers under the recall.

Is it really that important? 

There have been 11 deaths connected to the air bag inflators. The fault in the inflators can lead to shards of metal being shot out of the air bag casing, sending them flying into the person sitting in front of the bag. The age of the car seems to make a difference with the problem, so owners of older cars should not put off getting the fix.

What’s the deal with where I live?

According to NHTSA, the Takata inflators seem to be vulnerable to high humidity and high temperature conditions. Cars that are owned by people who live in the Southeast, Hawaii, and island territories may be at higher risk for exploding air bags. High humidity areas are seeing repairs before other parts of the country.

If I’m on the list, does that mean my airbags are bad?

No. Only a small number of airbags have ruptured. After finding out about the problem, Takata tested 30,000 bags and had 265 rupture  because of the inflator problem. That ratio is high in car safety standards, and triggered the original recall.

For more information  about the recall,  Sign up for the NHTSA e-mail list for direct notifications.