Thousands of cars equipped with faulty airbags on Utah roads as automakers issues ‘Do Not Drive’ warnings

Jun 4, 2024, 10:48 PM | Updated: Jun 5, 2024, 5:30 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Over the past 10 years, auto manufacturers have recalled over 67 million Takata airbags because of their potential to explode if deployed in a collision and shoot out sharp metal fragments.

The defective airbags have been linked to 27 deaths in the U.S. so far and injured more than 400 drivers and passengers. And as horrible as that is, experts say those airbags become even more likely to explode the longer they’re allowed to sit in our cars unfixed.

This past week, Nissan issued a “do not drive” order for 84,000 older cars with unfixed Takata airbags. Toyota, Ford, BMW, Mazda and Honda all have issued similar warnings that their cars cannot be safely driven until the airbags are replaced.

“Park the car,” said Patrick Olsen, editor-in-chief at Carfax, of the “do not drive” warnings. “’We’ll (automakers) send a tow truck for you. We’ll take it, get it fixed and bring it back to you.’”

Olsen said long-term exposure of the airbag’s propellant to high heat and humidity only increases the odds the airbag will explode.

“I know Salt Lake City – plenty of heat. And so, every summer, it’s accruing more and more trouble in that airbag,” he said.

According to numbers Carfax shared with the KSL Investigators, 70,000 cars and trucks on Utah roads right now have unfixed Takata airbags. Sixty-two thousand of those are based in the Salt Lake area.

Olsen says supply chain issues that plagued airbags are no longer there.

“There was absolutely a shortage of replacement recalls back in 2014 when the recalls started and frankly lasted for several years,” Olsen said. “Now, though, there is no shortage of replacement airbags.”

If you’re unsure if you have a recalled airbag in your car, it’s easy to check. Search your car’s VIN on Carfax’s website or the website for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. You’ll have the answer in seconds.

Olsen said an airbag generally will only take a couple of hours to replace at absolutely no cost to you. Schedule an appointment ahead with the manufacturer’s dealership, so you can be sure there is an airbag on hand for your model. Even if you’re not the car’s original owner, they must repair it.

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Thousands of cars equipped with faulty airbags on Utah roads as automakers issues ‘Do Not Drive’ warnings