Toyota reverses position, will replace millions of Takata airbag parts in Japan

The automaker had previously claimed that 1.6 million airbag inflators were safe, but a recent accident turned that decision around.

Andrew Krok Reviews Editor / Cars
Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.
Andrew Krok
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Takata Airbag

If the inflator is defective, the energy inside the system can send metal shrapnel flying about the cabin.

Alexauto321/Wikimedia Commons

Toyota owners in Japan should once again look to their mailboxes for recall information. After previously saying over one million Takata-sourced airbag inflators in Toyota vehicles were safe, the automaker has reversed course and requested that all previously-recalled vehicles return to dealerships for prompt part replacement.

Built between 2004 and 2008, 22 models comprising some 1.6 million cars are once again being recalled, despite receiving an all-clear signal this past summer. Toyota chose to revisit the decision after a recent accident, in which a ruptured airbag inflator injured a Nissan X-Trail owner. Reuters reports that Nissan also recalled some 300,000 vehicles since the collision.

Takata, a parts supplier for multiple major auto manufacturers, came under fire last year after it was discovered that its airbag inflators would occasionally send metal shrapnel into the cabin.

In the US alone, defective Takata parts have been linked to eight deaths. Takata remains unsure as to why this is happening.

The Takata scandal resulted in one of the largest industry-wide recalls ever. Toyota has recalled some 12 million vehicles worldwide for this issue, which makes it larger than Volkswagen's recent diesel recall. US owners can find a full list of affected makes and models at safercar.gov.

In May and June of this year, Toyota recalled the aforementioned models and investigated the inflators for air leaks. Some were replaced, but many were sent back out as-is. This time around, Toyota is replacing each and every unit in the hopes that it will prevent any future rupture-related injuries. The replacement parts will also come from Takata. The company could not immediately be reached for comment.