Toyota, other automakers hit with air-bag recall

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Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Mazda are recalling about 3.3 million vehicles worldwide because the passenger-side air bag could deploy with too much force, sending shards of metal into the passenger area.

The recalls, announced in Tokyo, include about 1.7 million Toyotas, 1.1 million Hondas, 480,000 Nissans and 20,000 Mazdas. Almost 1.4 million of the vehicles are in the United States.

Among the automakers, Honda has had the most serious, continuing problem with air bags.

Before Thursday’s announcement, Honda had already recalled almost 2 million vehicles since 2008 for an excessively powerful driver’s air bag.

Honda said Thursday it was not aware of any injuries related to the defect, which involves the inflaters on passenger-side air bags.

But late in 2011, it acknowledged 18 injuries and two deaths linked to a recall of 2 million vehicles because of the problem with the driver’s air bag.

The bags were produced by Japan’s Takata, which also sold some of the defective products to General Motors and BMW, according to a report Takata filed Thursday with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

About 48,000 2003 Pontiac Vibes, mechanical siblings of the Toyota Matrix, will be recalled, GM spokesman Alan Adler wrote in an email. BMW says it’s researching the problem but no numbers or models were available.

The air bags have faulty inflater mechanisms that don’t route gas into the air bags. Instead, the high-pressure gas can launch plastic and metal parts from the bags into the cars’ passenger areas.

Takata says no one has been hurt, but there have been six incidents of the bags deploying improperly on roadways.

The automakers said they would inspect the bag inflaters and replace them if necessary at no cost to owners.

Toyota will have to inspect or fix 1.7 million vehicles worldwide, including about 580,000 in North America, 490,000 in Europe and 320,000 in Japan. The models include the Corolla compact, Matrix hatchback, Sequoia SUV and Tundra pickup, as well as the Lexus SC 430 sports car. All the vehicles were manufactured from 2001 to 2003.

The Hondas are 2002-03 CR-V models; 2001-03 Civics; and 2002 Odyssey minivans. The Mazdas are the 2003-04 Mazda 6 and 2004 RX-8.

The Nissans are the 2001-03 Nissan Maxima, Infiniti FX, Infiniti QX4, Nissan Pathfinder and Nissan Sentra, Nissan spokesman Steve Yaeger said in an email.

Last modified: April 11. 2013 11:02PM
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