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Authorities in Thailand Warn Airbags in 600,000 Vehicles May Be Faulty



Authorities in Thailand Warn Airbags in 600,000 Vehicles May Be Faulty

Thailand’s Department of Land Transport (DLT) warned on Tuesday that approximately 600,000 vehicles in the country have yet to be checked for faulty Takata airbags and urged drivers to get free replacements.

According to the Transport Department, a system has been in place to remedy the problem with automotive manufacturing companies’ airbags in vehicles worldwide.

Defects in Takata brand airbags, manufactured and installed in vehicles between 1998 and 2018, were linked to accidents and fatalities, resulting in the largest product recall spanning multiple countries.

Since 2018, the DLT has been collaborating with the Thai Automotive Industry Association (TAIA) and car dealers to notify owners of vehicles that may have Takata-brand airbags installed. Owners have been encouraged to have their vehicles inspected and the defective airbags replaced.

So far, about a million cars have had unsafe airbags replaced, but the department estimates that another 600,000 have not been checked.

As a result, the DLT introduced a new system this week to warn car owners about defective airbags.

When owners visit department offices across the country to renew their licenses or pay the annual car tax online through DLT E-Service, officials will inspect their vehicles to see if they have the suspect airbags.

Officials will then request the owners’ names and phone numbers so they can be scheduled for a free replacement at a nearby service center.


Takata Airbags

Takata’s history with smaller airbags began in the 1990s. The inflators of these airbags contain highly explosive fuel. Takata was aware of inflator failures, including ruptures, in the early 2000s but failed to report incidents to authorities. The company attributed the problem to production issues.

Then, in 2008, Honda recalled approximately 4000 vehicles due to potentially defective airbag inflators that could explode with excessive force. Following reports of injuries and deaths caused by Takata airbags in its vehicles, the Japanese automaker expanded the recall in 2010.

The first large-scale recall occurred in 2013, when Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, and BMW recalled approximately 3.4 million vehicles worldwide. The majority of these vehicles were manufactured between November 2000 and March 2004. Takata stated in 2015 that it was aware of 88 airbag ruptures out of over 1.2 million airbag deployments over 15 years.

Other automakers and vehicle brands followed suit over the next few years. Around 19 different automakers recalled vehicles from 34 brands to replace the driver’s or passenger’s side frontal airbags or both. In the United States, these airbags were mostly found in vehicles from 2002 to 2015.

Automobile manufacturers recall vehicles equipped with Takata airbags due to the possibility of a faulty inflator. The inflator is a metal canister that contains Phase Stabilized Ammonium Nitrate, an explosive chemical propellant (PSAN).

The chemical propellant in a properly functioning inflator will burn in a controlled manner, quickly emitting gas through vents in the canister. The gas then inflates the airbag.

Takata’s inflator, on the other hand, could be faulty. This means that the chemical propellant could burn out of control – too quickly and with too much explosive force. The canister may contain the explosion by shattering into shrapnel and spraying it at the occupant, much like a grenade.

airbagsAutomakers recall vehicles

According to research, PSAN can degrade over time due to humidity and temperature. This means that defective PSAN airbag inflators exposed to highly humid and hot environments are more likely to explode for extended periods.

Because these faulty airbag inflators pose a safety risk, automakers recall vehicles equipped with them. Automobile manufacturers would be required to replace these unsafe units with safe ones. So far, the Takata airbag recall is the most extensive and complex in automotive history. Car manufacturers recall 67 million airbag inflators in 42 million vehicles in total.

Even though carmakers have already identified which vehicle models and years have them, the Takata airbag recall still needs to be completed.

The massive scale of the recall, the age of many recalled vehicles, the diversity of the vehicle population under recall, and issues obtaining an adequate supply of replacement airbags are among the challenges.

So far, automakers have been conducting recalls in waves, prioritizing them based on risk. Of the 67 million Takata airbags recalled, approximately 11 million require replacement.

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