Deadly Defects: 17 million recalled Takata airbags still on US roads

Published: May. 12, 2021 at 11:48 AM CDT
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(InvestigateTV) - The warnings arrive in mailboxes daily, letters pointing out that a faulty airbag is in a vehicle: “URGENT AIRBAG safety recalls” is usually on the outside of the envelope, and yet, these warnings go largely ignored.

There are 17 million vehicles in the US, ranging in age from 2002 to 2015, that still have deadly Takata airbags inside the steering wheel. Some still have faulty airbags on the passenger side. The defect leads to airbag inflators rupturing and sending metal fragments flying. It prompted the largest automotive recall in U.S. history. Involving about 100 million inflators by 19 major automakers worldwide. 28 people have died, 19 of them in the United States. 290 more in this country have been injured.

The 19th death related to a Takata airbag was only just confirmed in late April by Honda and the N-T-S-B. It’s from a crash that happened in South Carolina in January.

Gudi Ratore died Christmas Eve 2012 in front of her 3 small children- while driving in Henrico County.

A mail truck pulled out in front of her it was a minor fender bender but the airbag ruptured, sending metal fragments into her face. She bled to death in the car.

“There’s a large laceration to the left side of her neck and it extended into the neck until the point that her arteries were severed,” said Lawyer Elizabeth West when this case was first in court.

Older vehicles with long-term exposure to hot, humid conditions are especially affected.

“I’m pleading with people it’s to your best interest is to your family’s interest is to your human interest to your community interest to take time out stop what you’re doing,” said Patrick Juneau.

Juneau is the court-appointed, special administrator of the Takata airbag recall settlements. Juneau says now is as good a time as any to bring your recalled vehicle in and get the airbags replaced. Especially if you aren’t driving as much because of the pandemic and could afford to lose your vehicle for a few days.

“If someone told you you had a tumor and it would behoove you to take that tumor out or you could have a life-threatening experience in two weeks or a month from now. I would hope you’d go had the tumor removed. It’s the same thing with an airbag we know these things are dangerous,” said Juneau.

It just takes two minutes to find out if you have this recall on your vehicle. You can head over to You can search by vehicle brand or enter your vehicle’s identification number or VIN. The VIN is located on the driver-side hood of your car or you can also find it inside the driver’s side door. If you have this open recall, call a dealership and schedule an appointment. They will fix it for free.

Editor’s Note: Since this story was first published, InvestigateTV learned additional vehicles have been recalled that have dangerous Takata airbags.

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