Faulty Air Bag Parts Lead Honda to Re-Recall 1 Million Cars

By Ryan Beene | March 13, 2019

Honda Motor Co. will recall more than a million vehicles in the U.S. to replace a batch of faulty air bag parts that were installed as part of the largest auto safety recall in history.

A driver in Maryland was injured in a January crash when a 2004 Honda Odyssey driver-side air bag inflator, made by the now-defunct Takata Corp., ruptured, Honda said in a statement.

The inflator that failed was a replacement installed in 2015 under the terms of a prior recall. The vehicle was included in one of Honda’s earliest campaigns to replace Takata air bag inflators that contained a propellant that can become unstable and explode in a crash, a defect linked to more than a dozen deaths and at least 220 injuries worldwide.

The Maryland incident is the first reported injury linked to a Takata air bag made with a chemical additive known as a desiccant that absorbs moisture to prevent the ammonium nitrate propellant from becoming unstable.

Honda is the only automaker affected by the recall, Kathryn Henry, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration spokeswoman, said in an email. The agency has an ongoing investigation into the safety of similar Takata air bag inflators containing a desiccant, she said.

The addition of the additive and was thought to be a solution to the problem with the original air bags that were been found to activate with too much force in a crash, spraying the interior of vehicles with metal parts and leading to the recall of some 37 million vehicles in the U.S.

Honda said it suspects the desiccant was improperly handled at a Takata plant in Mexico, allowing the additive to become saturated with moisture when it was used to make the inflators. In a statement, the automaker noted that a definitive root-cause had not yet been identified.

The type of inflator covered by the recall announced Tuesday “contains substantially more desiccant than other desiccated inflator types, and it appears that the excessive moisture contained in the desiccant introduced humidity into the sealed inflator during assembly, accelerating propellant degradation over time,” Honda spokesman Chris Martin said in an email.

NHTSA said drivers should check their recall status at www.nhtsa.dot.gov/recalls, noting that not all Honda and Acura vehicles that have received replacement air bags under recalls are affected by the latest recall.

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