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Takata air bag recall to affect 34 million U.S. vehicles: Part II

In today's post, we're continuing a discussion about a recent announcement by Japanese auto parts manufacturer Takata. The company, which has provided air bags to most of the major automakers around the world, just announced that its safety recall will include 34 million vehicles in the United States, which is twice as many as originally planned.

The defective air bags can inflate too forcefully, causing metal components to explode and sending shrapnel flying. Complaints about Takata's exploding air bags go back as far as the year 2000. Considering just how many cars may have the dangerous air bags installed, it will take some time to even sort out which vehicles need to be recalled.

Before a list can be released, 10 different auto manufacturers will need to match manufacturing records to a separate set of records kept by Takata. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said compiling the list will likely take "several days," but that seems like a very generous estimate.

The NHTSA was likely trying to help avoid confusion and panic, but that is difficult to do when announcing incomplete information. Many Americans have already been calling auto dealerships in an attempt to get questions answered and to schedule repairs if possible. Until a master list of recalled vehicles is made public, many will not feel safe driving their own vehicles.

This recall is unprecedented not only in its size, but also in how many automakers are included. Most recalls involve a short list of car models and model years from a given manufacturer. And the company issuing the recall is likely to be prepared with replacement parts and a comprehensive list of recalled vehicles.

By contrast, the Takata recall involves at least 10 automakers and an unknown number of vehicle models and model years. Moreover, it will likely take considerable time to manufacture the necessary number of replacement air bags.

If your vehicle was manufactured between the year 2000 and now, please keep an eye on recall information as it becomes available. Until or unless these defective air bags are replaced, very few of us will feel safe behind the wheel.

Source: The New York Times, "For Drivers, Confusion Reigns in Takata Airbag Recall," Aaron M. Kessler and Danielle Ivory, May 20, 2015

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