Shrapnel airbags trigger recall by Japanese car manufacturers

One of the cars being recalled is a Toyota Yaris

Honda, Toyota, and Nissan recall 25m vehicles globally, including at least 42,000 vehicles in Ireland

More than 25m cars and trucks worldwide are in the process of being recalled by Japan’s three biggest car manufacturers over faulty airbags that propel metal shards and shrapnel into passengers.

Honda, the manufacturer worst hit by the news with about 14.4m cars and trucks recalled to date, is preparing an additional recall of 4.8m vehicles related to airbags made by Japanese firm Takata.

Toyota is recalling 27,000 cars in Ireland, while Nissan is recalling 15,500 vehicles. The number of Hondas being recalled in Ireland has not been made available.

Toyota Ireland says there are no reports of any cases of improper deployment of its airbags in Ireland and that the recalls are a “purely precautionary measure”.

Toyota’s recall in Ireland includes vehicles manufactured from April 2004 to November 2007. The models involved are Yaris, Corolla, and Avensis Verso.

The recall also affects the driver’s side airbag on RAV4, Yaris, and Hilux models that were manufactured between July 2003 and November 2005.

“This will affect many of our markets, including Japan, Europe, and North America,” said a Nissan spokesman, who added that the explosion risk was among a range of problems seen in the defective airbags.

“There might be many factors. We have seen risks that the metal casing for inflators can malfunction.”

Both Toyota and Nissan say there are no reports of deaths or injuries linked to their latest recall but six deaths have so far been linked to the defective airbags, all on cars made by Honda, Japan’s third-largest car manufacturer.

Toyota will recall about 5m more cars involving 35 models manufactured from March 2003 to November 2007, while Nissan will call back some 1.56m vehicles.

Car safety regulators in Japan and the US are investigating Takata airbag inflators that can deploy with too much force, breaking up metal and plastic parts and hurling them at car occupants.

“The biggest problem here is both car makers and Takata have not specified the direct reason for the defect,” said Takeshi Miyao, an analyst at researcher Carnorama in Tokyo.

“They can’t recall all the possible cars without knowing what the direct cause is as the costs are enormous and they don’t know which side should cover the costs.”

Nissan said the inflators involved in the latest recall were made at Takata’s Monclova plant in Mexico, which also manufactured devices recalled in previous safety campaigns.

“This situation is unique in terms of its scope but it’s going to be more common in the future because of the global nature of vehicle designs,” said Neil Steinkamp, a managing director at Stout Risius Ross. who studies warranty and recall issues.

“This is playing out internationally as different regulators investigate.”

Toyota said the latest recalls were triggered by investigations into a ruptured airbag inflator recovered from a scrapped car at a salvage yard in Japan in November 2014. Air leaks were found that could allow moisture to seep into the device and cause the propellant to deteriorate, according to Kaya Doi, a spokeswoman for Toyota.

“After further investigation, we decided to conduct this recall as a preventive measure,” she said.

Tokyo-based Takata resisted calls by US authorities for a total national recall of cars with its airbags. The company is facing multiple lawsuits in the US and Canada as well as a US criminal investigation.

A spokesman for the Society of the Irish Motor Industry said that the organisation is unaware of any other car brands on sale that could be affected by the faulty airbags.

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