Nissan, Honda, Toyota and Mazda have issued a worldwide recall for defective airbags that could rupture and spray passengers with shrapnel. The total number of cars affected could be over five million.
US and Japanese regulators are investigating reports that malfunctioning Takata air bag inflaters could make the airbags rupture. Toyota alone could recall 2.3 million vehicles.
This is the second recall in recent years for Takata-made air bags. BMW also recalled 3.6 million cares last year for the same problem. In the US the NHTSA will investigate whether there should be recalls for American car manufacturers.
Takata stated this week that it also supplied the bad inflaters to Chrysler and Ford. But it is up to automakers to decide if it is going to issue a recall.
This recall shines a bright light on the state of technology for air bags, which are quite difficult to product and expensive to develop.
Takata believes that excessive moisture is what causes the defect: moisture and humidity can seep into the inflaters, which can destabilize the propellant inside.
Two deaths have been caused by the exploding air bags, in both Virginia and Oklahoma.
Takata has admitted that it did not store chemical properly and had mishandle explosive propellants that are used to inflate the airbags at its Mexico plant. The firm also has not kept good records of quality control, which makes it harder to determine which vehicles have the defective airbags.
The recall affects Hondas made between 2000 and 2005; Nissans made between 2001 and 2003; and Mazdas between 2002 and 2004.