On Tuesday, drivers nationwide got some pretty awful news: Airbag manufacturer Takata nearly doubled its recall in size, admitting that almost 34 million vehicles might have defective parts. That means almost one in seven of the approximately 250 million cars currently on the road in this country could be affected by the recall. And to make matters worse, the National Highway Traffic Security Administration (NHTSA is still tallying up which cars could potentially be affected. (For an updated by-the-minute list, check in here.) As if it’s not frightening enough to get behind the wheel of a powerful machine day-in, day-out, must we also worry about whether or not that machine is faulty before it ever hits the road? Let’s look into the ins-and-outs of this Takata recall?
The recall is deadly serious: Six people have lost their lives already, and the malfunctions of the airbags are grave in nature. CNN describes: “The airbags have been known to explode and send shrapnel into the face and body of both the driver and front seat passenger. Victims appeared to have been shot or stabbed, according to police who responded to the accidents.”
Perhaps most terrifying is that there is at least one case of an airbag exploding when a car was merely stopped at an intersection. However, most of the time the airbag exploded after an accident. The next step in such a massive recall is to replace the faulty parts, but doing so could be an incredibly lengthy and arduous process, as few manufacturers have 34 million spare airbags lying around. So far Takata has made just 4 million of the replacement airbags, according to CNN.
Quoted had two main questions in the wake of the announcement: What happens to drivers with affected cars, but also, what happens to the insurance on a recalled car?
What to Do if Your Car is on the List
- First, check to see if your car is affected at the official source. Especially helpful here is the VIN finder, so you can check your specific car—but note that the NHTSA is still adding models daily as this unfolds.
- If your car is affected, your first step should be to contact a dealer that sells your make and model of car in order to get your airbag replaced. Be advised, however, that waiting for repair might take a while, as 34 million bags are not ready yet.
- If you’re the tallest in the family, take over the driving until the airbag can be fixed. Sounds crazy, but CNN explains: “The closer someone is to an airbag when it goes off, the more at risk they are. So shorter drivers, who have shorter arms, are more at risk that taller drivers.”
- If, as a family, you have two cars, rely on the non-recalled car for now.
How This Takata Recall Affects Your Insurance
We touched on this topic back in October—luckily for you, an auto recall is the responsibility of the manufacturer, not your insurer. If you do get in a recall-related accident, your insurance company will likely make your manufacturer fork over the dough. However! If you put off getting the recall fixed and it has long-term safety impacts on your car, it could cause your rates to go up.
How that makes any sense: Where it gets tricky is in regards to safety. Car insurance rates are determined in part by the relative safety of a vehicle. If a recall has long-term affects on the safety of your car, your rates could therefore be negatively impacted. But this usually isn’t the case, so don’t worry unless your car has seen multiple recalls or needs other repairs due to the issue.
Do you drive a car affected by the Takata recall? If so, how will you manage until you can get your airbag replaced?