NEW YORK — Federal safety regulators warned owners of more than 300,000 Hondas and Acuras that they should not drive their cars until their Takata airbags are replaced.
New tests show these airbags have a much higher risk of exploding and killing a driver or passenger, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These airbags have a 50 percent chance of exploding when they are deployed in an accident — other Takata airbags have less than a 1 percent chance of exploding.
“The risk posed by the airbag inflators in these vehicles is grave, and it is critical they be repaired now to avoid more deaths and serious injuries,” the agency said in a statement.
There have been 10 U.S. deaths tied to exploding Takata airbags. Eight of them were in cars that had this specific airbag.
Cars located in humid regions of the country such as Texas, Florida and the Gulf Coast are at particular risk.
This group of cars is a small subset of cars with Takata airbags that have been already recalled. Nearly 70 million airbags in U.S. cars alone have been or will be recalled, according to the agency. It will take until 2019 to replace these airbags because not all of the replacement parts are immediately available.
But Honda has the replacement parts to fix all of the 300,000 high-risk cars covered by this alert, the NHTSA said.
The high-risk models identified by the NHTSA include:
- 2001-2002 Honda Civic
- 2001-2002 Honda Accord
- 2002-2003 Acura TL
- 2002 Honda CR-V
- 2002 Honda Odyssey
- 2003 Acura CL
- 2003 Honda Pilot.
About 700,000 cars with the high risk airbags have already been fixed. The recalls for these models took place between 2008 and 2011.
But it often takes years for recalled cars to be fixed. On average about a third of recalled vehicles are never repaired, according to industry estimates. That’s true even in the case of high profile recalls in which there are multiple deaths reported, as in this case.
According to the NHTSA, 8.9 million Takata airbags were replaced in the last year. But that only represents about a third of the cars in which owners have been notified that a replacement part is available.