This year is on pace to be a record-breaking one for auto recalls. The record was set last year, which saw 64 million vehicles recalled for safety problems. That number is shaping up to be easily surpassed by the end of 2015.
This year’s recalls are spearheaded by the largest recall in American automotive history: the 34-million-vehicle recall of automobiles with airbags from the Japanese company Takata, one of the world’s largest airbag suppliers. The vehicles were recalled for defective airbags, and they represent about in every seven cars on the road in the U.S.
Motorists were killed by airbags that could explode when deployed, launching shrapnel into the driver’s seat. More than 100 injuries and six deaths were linked to the faulty airbags.
According to the New York Times, complaints about Takata for rupturing airbags had been reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as far back as 2001.
Honda was the automaker most affected by the Takata recalls, with about 4.5 million affected vehicles. BMW, Dodge, Chrysler, Toyota, Subaru, Nissan, Ford, Mazda and Infiniti all have models on the recall list as well.
Although research is still being conducted into why the airbags were so faulty, it’s believed that heat, age and humidity all contributed to the dangerous airbags. The inflators have a chemical in them that can become unstable in moisture. The airbags can rupture and harm someone, even if the accident is just a simple fender-bender.
The National Highway Transportation Administration announced it would hold a public information meeting regarding the airbag recalls on October 22.
Volkswagen Engulfed in Scandal
Another major recall may soon be coming: Volkswagen has received a lot of unwanted publicity after the Environmental Protection Agency said the automaker installed illegal software in its diesel-power cars in order to evade standards for reducing smog. At least 11 million vehicles are affected.
Volkswagen is accused of installing software that would keep emissions within legal limits only when the vehicle was being tested. The EPA said that, in normal circumstances, those controls are turned off and the cars emit up to 40 times as much pollution as allowed under the Clean Air Act.
The full picture of this is still to be seen, but Volkswagen is expected to pay billions of dollars as a result of this deceit. The company’s CEO resigned just days after the scandal came to light.
Other Notable Recalls
Here are some of the other major recalls that we have seen so far in 2015:
- General Motors agreed to pay a $1 billion fine to settle a federal investigation into defective ignition switches that killed at least 124 people. Some victims’ relatives and auto safety advocates had complained that no GM employees were criminally charged in the case, saying the fine was the equivalent to a slap on the wrist for the wealthy company. GM recalled more than three million vehicles, most of which were sedans, to replace the switches. The switches could shut off unexpectedly, cutting power to the engine and leaving drivers suddenly stranded with no power steering, power brakes or functioning airbags – a horrifying situation to imagine.
- Toyota recalled roughly 421,000 RAV-4 SUVs because water dripping onto the windshield wiper link can cause corrosion. This wears at the wiper link joint, and in some cases could result in the separation of the wiper link from the wiper motor crank arm, rendering windshield wipers useless and making driving potentially dangerous in certain weather conditions.
- Fiat Chrysler, which owns Dodge, recalled 1.7 million Ram trucks because of defects. One of those defects included a wiring harness that could short-circuit and inadvertently deploy an airbag. The carmaker said it discovered certain trucks may have steering wheel harnesses that wear down because of contact with a spring. This wear can cause the short-circuiting, which could lead to the airbag deployment. Only a few injuries, and no deaths, were reported because of the defect.
- BMW recalled about 8,000 cars because they were potentially programmed with software that inadvertently renders the front side marker lights to not work. This happens in conjunction with the headlights and parking lights. This makes the cars less visible at night.
What to Do When Your Vehicle is Recalled
There were thousands of other cars recalled this year. These recalls included carmakers from all across the world. The defects ranged from moderate to severe. But no matter how large or small a recall is, any problem with an automobile has the potential to cause serious harm.
Consumer Reports has some good advice on what to do if your vehicle is recalled. And if you or a loved one has been injured by an automobile defect, we know what you care most about is getting your life back to as close to normal as possible.
At Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann, we can help you do this by pursuing a successful car accident claim. Our car accident and product liability attorneys are deeply experienced with these cases.