Over the past five years, 150 million vehicles have been recalled by manufacturers in the U.S.
It’s great that regulators and auto makers are constantly looking for issues that can cause danger to drivers and passengers, and recalls have likely saved thousands of lives. The problem is that not all drivers are taking the recalls seriously.
In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that about 25% of car owners do not respond to a recall. For the safety of yourself, your family, your passengers and the general public, you should always participate fully in recalls, which are always free safety fixes.
It’s also important to understand from the manufacturer whether or not your vehicle is safe to drive until the repair is completed. In some cases, the risk of injury will be far too great and you will need to bring the car in immediately. This is exactly the case with one of the most widespread recalls to date: Takata airbags.
These recalls started in 2014 after it was discovered that some Takata inflators can explode with excessive force and spray metal shrapnel into passenger compartments. They are suspected in dozens of deaths worldwide and hundreds of injuries worldwide, and recalls related to Takata inflators continue to this day.
The defective airbags have been installed in vehicles that were made as long ago as 2001 and virtually every major brand – American, Japanese and European – has used Takata airbags in at least some of their vehicles.
Takata airbags have been connected to at least 37 deaths worldwide, with 19 of those deaths – along with more than 400 injuries – occurring in the United States alone. And while roughly 67 million Takata airbags have been recalled, about 17 million have not been replaced.
If you’ve bought a car in the last two decades, there is a strong likelihood that it came installed with an airbag manufactured by Takata. If so, you may have received a letter from the carmaker informing you that you need to go in and have the airbags swapped out.
Don’t ignore the letter
The worst thing you can do is ignore recall letters, as the issues will cost you nothing to fix except time.
If you haven’t received a letter and have a vehicle that was made since 2001, you should check to see if your car is on the recall list. If you don’t, you could be putting your life and the lives of your family in danger if you have an accident.
If you have a used car, you would be unlikely to ever receive notifications of recalls. But you can also check for any recalls that apply to your vehicle on this website. Remember, even if your car does not have Takata airbags, it may be subject to a different manufacturer recall.
Regardless of if your car seems to be running fine or the repair seems minor, ignoring a recall could put you and your passengers in harm’s way. Take all recalls seriously.