Toyota and General Motors issue urgent warning for 61,000 older vehicles over Takata airbag risk

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In a joint statement released Monday, Toyota and General Motors have issued an urgent warning to owners of approximately 61,000 older Corolla, Matrix, RAV4, and Pontiac Vibe models to immediately stop driving their vehicles due to potential safety risks associated with their Takata airbag inflators.

The warning specifically targets certain Corolla compact cars and Matrix hatchbacks from the 2003 and 2004 model years, as well as the RAV4 small SUV from 2004 and 2005. Additionally, it covers around 11,000 Pontiac Vibes from 2003 and 2004, which share similarities with the Matrix and were produced at the same California factory. The majority of these vehicles are located in the United States.

According to Toyota’s statement, there is a heightened risk that the airbag inflators in these vehicles could explode upon deployment, releasing sharp metal fragments that pose a significant danger of serious injury or even death to the driver and passengers.

The RAV4 models included in the recall are equipped with Takata driver’s airbags, while the Corolla and Matrix models are affected on the passenger side. Furthermore, the Corolla and Matrix vehicles are subject to a separate recall due to a defect that can cause their airbags to deploy without a crash.

Both Toyota and General Motors have advised affected owners to refrain from driving their vehicles and instead contact their local dealerships to arrange for repairs. Dealers will provide various options for addressing the issue, including mobile repair services, towing the vehicle to a dealership, or arranging for vehicle pickup and delivery.

To check if their vehicles are impacted by the recall, owners can visit the website and enter their 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN).

The recall is related to Takata’s use of volatile ammonium nitrate as a propellant in their airbag inflators, which can deteriorate over time when exposed to high temperatures and humidity. This degradation can lead to an excessive explosion when the airbag deploys, rupturing the metal canister and releasing dangerous shrapnel.

Tragically, at least 26 people in the United States have lost their lives due to Takata inflator ruptures since May 2009, with an additional 30 fatalities reported globally, including in Malaysia and Australia. Furthermore, approximately 400 individuals have been injured as a result of these defective airbags, ultimately leading Takata into bankruptcy.

The widespread danger posed by these faulty inflators has resulted in the largest series of auto recalls in U.S. history, with approximately 100 million inflators recalled worldwide.

(Source: Associated Press | Asahi Shimbun | Fortune)

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