7 automakers issue regional recalls in U.S.

Honda, Nissan, Mazda expand recalls over Takata airbag flaw

7 automakers issue regional recalls in U.S.

Moisture due to improper storage at a Yakata factory is believed to degrade air bag inflators, causing them to explode, spraying pieces of metal into the cabin. And poor recording keeping by Takata has forced automakers to widen the 2013 recalls to cover vehicles that might have inadvertently received faulty propellant.

Photo credit: TAKATA
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TOKYO -- The recall storm embroiling Takata Corp.’s airbags widened today with Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp. calling back nearly 3 million vehicles to fix possibly defective inflator propellant made in North America.

Honda recalled 2.03 million vehicles worldwide, including 1.02 million in North America, 153,943 in Europe and 668,582 in Japan. The vehicles were manufactured between April 2000 and October 2002. In North America, they cover the Civic, CR-V, Odyssey and Element. In Europe, affected models are the Civic, Stream, Fit/Jazz and CR-V.

Mazda called back 159,807 vehicles worldwide, including 14,794 in North America, 90,259 in Europe and 11,832. That recall covers the RX-8 and first-generation Mazda6.

Nissan’s recall affects 755,000 units worldwide. The total includes 228,000 vehicles in North America, including the Infiniti FX35, Pathfinder and Cube, and 128,000 nameplates in Japan, including the X-Trail and Teanna. Nissan did not provide a European breakout.

The June 23 triple action pushes to nearly 10 million the number of vehicles recalled worldwide over the past five year to fix Takata airbags.

Two deaths have been linked to faulty airbags in Hondas, both of which occurred in the United States in 2009, and the company said it knows of 41 cases of ruptured airbags.

Spokespeople for Nissan and Mazda said they have received no reports of injuries.

The three companies said they will replace the defective parts.

Takata CEO Shigehisa Takada and COO Stefan Stocker said the company was working with safety regulators and automakers. "We will aim to further strengthen our quality control system and work united as a company to prevent problems from happening again," they said in a statement.

Regional recalls

Separately, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, Ford, Chrysler and BMW said they are conducting regional recalls in the United States to replace Takata air bag inflators in certain vehicles in high humidity regions of Puerto Rico, Florida, Hawaii and the Virgin Islands. Most of the companies said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had determined the regions affected, when asked why other humid areas were not covered.

However, Honda is also recalling affected vehicles in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas.

Ford said it was recalling 58,669 vehicles, including certain 2005-2007 model Mustang cars, 2005-2006 model GTs and 2004 Ranger pickup trucks. Mazda said the recall affects about 34,600 vehicles, including 2003-2006 Mazda6, 2004-2008 RX8 and 2006-2007 MazdaSpeed6 cars, and 2004 MPVs. None of the other automakers have determined the number of vehicles affected.

"Based on the limited data available at this time, NHTSA supports efforts by automakers to address the immediate risk in areas that have consistently hot, humid conditions over extended periods of time," NHTSA said in a statement.

Faulty inflators

The latest recalls target possibly defective airbag inflators that were not included in a worldwide April 2013 recall by Honda, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota.

Takata informed the companies earlier this month that faulty inflators may have slipped through the cracks and been delivered to manufacturers because of faulty record-keeping.

The lapses occurred at Takata plants in North America, a Honda spokeswoman said. The potentially defective parts were shipped to assembly plants worldwide.

The Honda, Mazda and Nissan callbacks come nearly two weeks after Toyota Motor Corp. issued a similar action to fix Takata airbags installed in its vehicles.

Tokyo-based Takata, the world's No. 2 auto safety equipment maker, said at the time that more recalls could come to fix glitches dating back to the early 2000s.

Storage, faulty recording issues

The problems have been twofold: Problems with moisture and problems with record-keeping. Initially, moisture due to improper storage at the factory was believed to degrade the inflators causing them to explode, spraying pieces of metal into the cabin.

Meanwhile, faulty recording keeping by Takata has forced automakers to widen the 2013 recalls to cover vehicles that might have inadvertently received faulty propellant.

On June 11, Toyota called back 1.62 million vehicles outside Japan that previously had been recalled and 650,000 more in Japan not previously targeted.

That action brought the total number of Takata airbag recalls to 7 million vehicles worldwide, Reuters reported. The Honda, Nissan and Mazda recalls add to that total.

From 2000 to 2002, Takata plants in Washington and Mexico used some propellant that had been exposed to moisture. Takata fixed the problem at the factory, but faulty record-keeping hampered it from identifying those batches.

So the automakers issued huge recalls to track down all defective airbags.

In a statement issued June 20, Takata CEO Shigehisa Takada confirmed that the inflators may have been damaged by moisture but also cited humid weather as a possible cause.

“We currently believe the high levels of absolute humidity in those states [Florida, Puerto Rico] are important factors; and as a result our engineers are analyzing the impact that humidity may have on the potential for an inflator malfunction,” he said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

You can reach Hans Greimel at hgreimel@crain.com. -- Follow Hans on Twitter

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