Takata airbags seem to be a problem that won't go away. On Tuesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety administration formally announced a new investigation into 30 millionwith potential inflator defects. Over 20 automakers that equipped vehicles with these inflators are named in the investigation. They include General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Porsche, Ferrari, Mazda and more.
In documents NHTSA published from its Office of Defects Investigation unit, the feds are specifically looking into 30 million airbags from vehicles manufactured between 2001 and 2019. Specifically, the analysis and investigation will look at potential degradation in Takata airbags equipped with desiccated phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate propellant. Right now, no Takata airbag with a desiccant are under recall, but NHTSA wants to see if some early understandings, which show the moisture-trapping desiccant, fail after a period of time. If the moisture saturation occurs, these inflators may pose a similar risk to the already recalled units. In those, prolonged exposure to moisture can cause the PSAN propellant to degrade and ignite too quickly when the airbag is deployed. Thus, the inflator may rupture and spew shrapnel at passengers.
The defect is a known cause of 28 deaths worldwide, including 19 in the US. However, NHTSA said there are no reported ruptures in desiccated units and drivers do not need to take any action right now. In addition, the government is also looking at a separate propellant Takata used. The time in service for this propellant is shorter than the others, and NHTSA said it will need to study it further. Right now, this other propellant does not show signs of degradation.