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NHTSA Launches Investigation Into Automakers Over Takata Airbag Recall Delays

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched an investigation into four automakers and their use of Takata airbags in the vehicles they manufacture but have yet to recall.

The Houston Chronicle reports that the federal agency is investigating automakers Audi, Toyota, Honda and Mitsubishi into the use of the dangerous airbags manufactured by Takata that are responsible for 24 deaths and more than 240 others injured. The bags were recalled because the ammonium nitrate used as a propellant in the bag inflators can degrade and cause the inflator to explode and send potentially deadly shrapnel into the driver and passengers of those vehicles.

The NHTSA reports that an estimated 50 million airbags are under recall, and according to the NHTSA, some 35 million vehicles are affected. Takata also manufactured non-azide inflators that were used by many automakers.  These did not have the same level of issues as those made with ammonium nitrate; however, there was still notable degradation over time or with exposure to moisture that could cause the airbags to deploy improperly.

The agency believes that automakers made use of the Takata airbags in the manufacture of vehicles from 1995 to 2000.  

Automaker BMW has instructed all drivers of its cars to park the vehicles until repairs can be made, while a spokesperson from Honda has issued a statement saying that while it has not investigated to determine the danger, it will have an answer for the NHTSA and consumers soon.  

Audi, Toyota, and Mitsubishi have all stated they are continuing to investigate the issue. The companies have until January 17th, 2020, to respond to the NHTSA with either a detailed work plan to notify consumers and replace the potentially faulty airbags in their vehicles or present information yo the agency as to whether there is a reasonable risk. 

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