Late last month, Toyota issued a "Do Not Drive" advisory for certain 2003-2005 models with recalled Takata airbags. The recall affected approximately 50,000 U.S. vehicles, including the 2003-2004 Corolla, the 2003-2004 Corolla Matrix, and the 2004-2005 RAV4. The issue with the Takata airbags does not stem from the airbags but from the inflators themselves. The Takata airbags were manufactured by the Takata Corporation, a Japanese-based auto supplier that equipped auto manufacturers around the world with roughly 25% of the inflators used to activate airbags in the event of an impact.
During the manufacturing process, in order to cut costs, Takata opted to use ammonium nitrate as a propellant. However, over time and exposure to high temperatures and humidity, the chemical can deteriorate and become unstable. In the event of an accident or minor impact, the inflators can rupture, sending metal fragments flying into the vehicle's cabin that could cause severe injury or death to the driver or passengers. The Takata airbags were installed in various vehicles from 2002 through 2015.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the issues with the Takata airbags have been reported since 2004, and since then, in the United States alone, there have been roughly 27 deaths and 400 injuries directly related to the defective airbags. To date, the recalls have grown to include 67 million airbags from over 47 million vehicles nationwide, making it the largest vehicle recall in the United States' history. Other auto companies that have released recalls due to the Takata airbags include BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Tesla, and Volkswagen.
Do not wait to seek repairs if you believe your vehicle may have been impacted by the most recent Toyota airbag recall or included in one of the previously mentioned recalls. For more information on your vehicle's recall, head to the NHTSA's website or Toyota's recall website and enter your vehicle's 17-character Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) in their search bar. Owners can locate their vehicle's VIN on the lower left side of the windshield or the owner's car's registration card. In some cases, the VIN can be found on the driver's insurance card. Drivers can also enter their vehicle's license plate number on the Toyota website in order to learn more information.
Toyota is offering customers affected by the recall a free repair or replacement of their airbags. In order to ensure these free repairs are accessible to its customers, they have also opted to provide mobile repair at the vehicle's location, towing to the dealership, vehicle pickup and delivery, or other alternate transportation options, free of charge. Toyota is notifying known owners of these vehicles each month through a variety of communication channels, including calls, emails, letters, and, in some cases, door to door visits. Due to the severity of the airbags, Toyota is urging their customers to avoid driving their vehicles until the free safety recall repair has been conducted.
If your vehicle does not appear to be registered on either website, contact your local Toyota dealership to learn more or contact Toyota customer support by calling the Toyota Brand Engagement Center (1-800-331-4331). Drivers can also review the NHTSA's report or contact a Morgan & Morgan Takata airbag attorney to learn more. For more information on the Takata airbags and how an attorney may be able to help you, contact a Morgan & Morgan airbag attorney today by completing our free, no-obligation case evaluation form.