Due to a crash and the resulting explosion in Maryland, the once thought safe Takata airbag inflator, standard on Honda vehicles, has now come under scrutiny. The car involved in the blast was reported to have been that of an older model of the minivan by Honda.
As a result of the crash, Honda announced Tuesday that it would be recalling an estimated 1.2 million vehicles both North America and Central America as well. The model years included in the recall range from 2001-2016. These model years were not included in a previous recall for the same Takata airbags, that at that time were reported to potentially expel shrapnel into the passenger’s compartment area.
Upon impact, the Takata airbags reportedly use the substance ammonium nitrate along with a small explosion, that then inflates the bags. However, it would seem that over time, exposure to high temperatures and humidity can lead to deterioration of the metal canister containing the ammonia nitrate and actually blow apart, expelling metal shrapnel in the process.
To date, a reported 23 people have been killed and hundreds more injured by the faulty airbag inflators. The most recent recall has a newly reworked design that used a moisture absorbing desiccant to aid in keeping the ammonium nitrate stable.
It appeared that by adding the desiccant that the problem was fixed, and as such the vehicles containing the adjustment were not considered in the broader recall. The new fix had even been used to replace those older inflators that were under the 2014 recall.
However, due to the reported crash of 2004 Honda Odyssey in January 2018, both Honda and the US NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a new investigation. The investigation is what lead to the Tuesday announcement of the recall, as it was discovered the driver’s airbag inflator in the January crash had indeed ruptured.
Honda was reported as stating that the investigative probe led to the discovery that the inflators constructed at Takata’s Monclova, Mexico factory had a manufacturing defect, making the product faulty.
It is not known at this time which other manufacturers of the inflators chose to go the route of using the desiccants, or if the government is considering, even more, recalls in the future.