January 22

Takata Air Bag Recall

Safety Issues


Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local. We're here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. We're talking about cars. How are you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So, 38 years of fixing cars, 18 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. Pawlik Automotive. Today, we're doing a bit of a safety information cast I guess on Takata air bag recall. What's going with this mess?

Bernie: What's going on with this mess? Yeah, it's a pretty big one for sure. There's a lot on the news effecting 19 different auto manufacturers, which is a lot. There's probably more on the list of cars that are effected as manufacturers that are effected as opposed to ones that aren't. 42 million vehicles. That's a lot in North America. That may just be the US alone, but the recall is bigger in the US, so that's basically the issue.

Airbags are basically, when they go off, some of them can actually explode and shoot shrapnel into the vehicle in the passenger compartment and a few people have died. I believe it's 19 or 21 to date have died. Someone died just the other day from one, so it's pretty serious.

Mark: Okay, so how does an item that's supposed to save lives end up killing people?

Bernie: Very good question, so the airbag, the way an airbag works is a bag of air obviously that's meant to cushion your body when you're in a collision, so the bag basically blows off extremely quickly in the event of a collision. Prevents your head from hitting something or other body parts depending on which airbag it is. So, there's an inflator inside. It's basically and explosive device that blows the bag really fast and it deflates. There's problems with the chemicals that they use. Especially in high humidity, high temperature ares. The chemical degrades and it can cause a very powerful explosive reaction. Not one that was, far more powerful than it was intended to and that what can cause the inflator unit, which is basically a metal casing to explode. It's never meant to blow up that much, so that's where the problem lies.

Mark: It works too well basically.

Bernie: It works to well. It's really a chemistry problem. I guess they never anticipated over time how the chemicals where gonna change, so obviously in the recall bags and newer bags for one that don't explode, have different chemical formula.

Mark: And how many vehicles again are effected?

Bernie: As of a current date, I read 42 million vehicles. There's 69 million inflators, so obviously there's some are passenger side. Some of drivers, some vehicles will need both, so that's a lot of units and a lot of pieces.

Mark: Or even side curtain inflators, is that ...

Bernie: Even sides. Yeah. Yeah.

Mark: And how has that effected Takata?

Bernie: Well, they're in bankruptcy. I don't have all the specs and info, but last I read, they have actually gone into bankruptcy, which is a question of how is that gonna effect the recall. They'll keep, someone will keep making them. The government will mandate it. They'll take over whatever needs to be done. It'll all get fixed, but Takata is probably out of the picture. Or restructured.

Mark: Yeah, this is a big company. They've got huge plants on four different continents.

Bernie: Yeah. Looking at the scope of who they supplied in the auto industry, it's a massive company. You think there's, of all the vehicles they've supplied, they've obviously made some that are not defective and there's others that will be coming defective over time, as you've said. It's a massive company.

Mark: Okay, the big question. How do I know if my car is one of the ones that's effected?

Bernie: Excellent question. So, if you own a car. The first thing I suggest you do, just get on the internet. Do a little research. Consumer Reports has a very good page and information about this recall. NHTSA, National Highway Transportation Safety has a website. They have a VIN look-up, so you can actually type the VIN number of your vehicle. You can get some information. Also Transport Canada has a website. If you're watching this somewhere else in the world, just look up wherever your local government website is and see. Because this is actually not just North America. This a worldwide issue.

Those are some of the best resources in North America. You can type your VIN number. You can even call your vehicle manufacturer. Doing a scan of a list of vehicle brands. Which ones aren't on here. I mean Hyundai and Kia are not. Of course, they could be. Things change. Look over those websites, see what you find first and then if you have any questions at all, call a dealer. Give them your VIN number, and they can let you know whether it needs a recall.

Mark: And who's gonna fix my car if it's recalled?

Bernie: It'll be the dealer. The dealer of the vehicle, so if it's a Honda, it'll be a Honda dealer.

Mark: So, are there any vehicles more dangerous than others for these exploding devices?

Bernie: There is and actually if you look on the, some of these websites that I mentioned. Highway, NHTSA, they have a big listing and transport, I looked this morning. There's a listing of several vehicles they say are extremely dangerous. Some of these are early 2000 Hondas and Acuras, so about 2001 to four, some in that range. Some a little newer than that. Also Ford Ranger. I think it's 2006 Ford Ranger. Ford actually recommends not even driving the vehicle, so make sure you look at this stuff. If you're watching this video, check this out. Make sure your vehicles safe. There are a few that are apparently extremely bad.

Mark: What if I can't get my vehicle in for whatever reason? I'm out of the country or I'm, I don't want my kids driving it. Is there someway that I can disable the airbag in the interim?

Bernie: You know, that's a interesting issue. This is a question that people may come to our shop can you disable my airbag? Well, it's actually illegal for us to disable a piece of safety equipment so, but is it better to have one that could blow up and kill you? I'd say probably not. There are ways to disable them. I don't want to say how to do it here, that's something you'd have to figure out on your own. There are fuses for airbags, but whether or not that's gonna even, if you remove it, whether that's gonna effect it or not, I'm not certain. They build these systems pretty integral to vehicle, so they're there to work. But yes, there are ways to disable it, but I won't tell you how. It's not something that we can do in our shop.

Mark: So, do you think that more vehicles will be listed in the recall as time goes on here?

Bernie: Yeah, absolutely. They actually if you look on the NHTSA website, they actually have a list of future recalls, so they're looking at vehicles that are gonna be recalled in the future. There's actually a timeline right up to 2019 into next year of vehicles. I don't know if they actually list the vehicles that are going to be recalled, but they're looking at things. There's a lot going on behind the scenes around this, so just because your vehicle's good today, doesn't mean it's gonna be good tomorrow. Just keep on top of it maybe every six months have a look and see what's going on to make sure you have the safest vehicle on the road. You want your airbag to work for you. Not against you.

Mark: Exactly and are you, is Pawlik offering any kind of service in this regard to help out their clients who they've got records of?

Bernie: Yeah, if you're a customer of ours, please give me a call. We'd be happy to look up your VIN number and let you know whether yours is effected by a recall or not. You can do it yourself, but if you want to give us a call, we're happy to do it for you.

Mark: So, there you go. If you've something to check, you have an airbag in your car, you need to check this. Your life depends on it. This is a serious problem. Call your dealer and they'll have a recall to fix your vehicle if it's one of the ones listed. Check out Consumer Reports. Check out Transport Canada or the NHTSA in the United States or your particular country's government highway safety board and there will be a listing of whether your car is on the list and needs to be repaired ASAP. If you need service for your vehicles, the guys to see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com or our many years now of live broadcast at Pawlik Automotive Repair. Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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