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Another Takata airbag recall takes shape, could affect 100 million inflators

Without evidence that another potential issue won't cause problems, NHTSA could demand yet another recall.

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A new recall just as large as previous ones may loom.

Christopher Jue/Stringer/Getty Images

The former powerhouse that was Takata quickly fell like a house of cards this decade following the Japanese supplier's admittance to wrongdoing throughout a series of safety recalls. Although Takata as we knew it is no longer, its problems continue to surface.

Bloomberg reported on Thursday that the clock is ticking for the supplier that absorbed bankrupt Takata, TK Services, nee Key Safety Systems, which has until Dec. 31 to show a chemical drying agent used in replacement airbags is safe for motorists. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a statement, "NHTSA is carefully reviewing information regarding the safety of desiccated inflators to determine appropriate next steps."

The issue could affect 100 million inflators and be another stinging blow to automakers. According to the timeline, the original problems found in Takata airbags, which have been responsible for multiple deaths and injuries, were dealt with in 2015. That's when inflators using ammonium nitrate were banned.

However, units with the chemical drying agent were never recalled while automakers studied how they performed in the long term. This particular chemical was used in airbags starting in 2008 and found its way to replacement airbags during initial Takata recalls. Automakers have, so far, shown the chemical agent is safe through independent testing.

That hasn't stopped others from being safe, rather than sorry. Honda recalled 1.1 million cars this past March to replace airbags equipped with the drying agent.

Atop all of this, another Takata issue showed up earlier this month that could affect 1.4 million vehicles. A new batch of cars' inflators may not contain stabilized ammonium nitrate (PSAN) propellant. Without it, moisture could cause the airbag to explode or under-inflate and spew shrapnel at passengers. The issue produced one fatality in Australia and BMW advised owners of older vehicles to park their cars until a fix is ready.

Originally published Dec. 13.
Update, Dec. 16: Adds statement from NHTSA.

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