A serious airbag defect that can be found in several Japanese-made cars has led to a massive international recall of more than 3 million automobiles. The recall came with serious warnings that the affected systems could lead to explosions and flying shrapnel, The Los Angeles Times reports.
According to the news source, Honda, Nissan, Toyota and General Motors are all involved in the major recall, which was first relayed by safety officials in Japan on Wednesday, April 10. Japanese safety regulators stated that because the parts manufacturer, Takata Corp., has such an international presence, it’s likely that even more cars are affected.
“Takata supplies a lot of U.S. manufacturers too,” said Michelle Krebs, an analyst with auto information company Edmunds.com.
An early investigation has found that all of the affected models were produced sometime between 2000 and 2004. Experts say that in some of the problematic systems, the propellant that is used to instantly inflate the airbag can burn faster than normal. This instability can lead to an explosion that could potentially cause metal shrapnel to bounce around the interior of the car, potentially hitting the driver.
Honda spokesman Chris Martin said a normally functioning system would have simply produced enough force to inflate the bag.
“It is designed to burn at a controlled rate, even at just a fraction of a second,” Martin said. “If the propellant burns too quickly, the little holes in the canister are not enough to release all that pressure and the canister can break apart.”
According to the media outlet, one report of a crash potentially caused by the defect has been reported. Honda alone says it will need to recall 1.1 million cars in total, including 426,000 Civics, 43,000 CR-Vs and 92,000 Odysseys. Toyota said it will recall 1.7 million of its cars, about 51,000 of which were distributed and sold in the U.S.
Toyota said it has received five reports of the problem.
According to USA Today, airbags have become a major problem for some of the world’s largest automakers. Many of the problems are arising as car companies push the limits on the number of bags that can be put inside a car. This creates more room for error, and may have contributed to the growing number of recalls.
As the systems grow more advanced, auto manufacturers may need to turn their attention to testing procedures conducted before the product is released to the public.