DETROIT (AP) — A type of Takata air bag inflator once thought to be safe has now come under scrutiny after a crash and explosion in Maryland injured the driver of a Honda minivan.
The incident forced Honda on Tuesday to recall about 1.2 million vehicles in North and Central America from the 2001-16 model years that were not included in the massive string of Takata recalls for air bags that can hurl shrapnel into the passenger compartment.
Takata used ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion and inflate air bags in a collision. But the chemical can deteriorate when exposed to high temperatures and humidity and blow apart a metal canister, spewing out shrapnel. At least 23 people have been killed by the company’s inflators and hundreds more injured.
The inflators in the Tuesday recall contain a moisture-absorbing chemical called a desiccant that was added to keep the ammonium nitrate stable. They were believed to be safe and were never part of the broader recall. They had even been used to replace older inflators under recalls that began in 2014.
But Honda and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said a crash on Jan. 19, 2018, involving a 2004 Honda Odyssey initiated an investigation and Tuesday’s recall when investigators discovered the driver’s air bag inflator ruptured. The probe determined inflators made at Takata’s Monclova, Mexico, factory were faulty due to a manufacturing defect, Honda said. The driver suffered an arm injury.
NHTSA, the government’s highway safety regulator, said in a statement Tuesday only Honda used this particular type of Takata inflator made at the Mexican factory. At this time, the agency believes the Honda problem has been isolated and is caused by a manufacturing issue.
The recall covers certain Honda and Acura models largely in the U.S. and Canada. Included are the 2001-07 and 2009 Honda Accord, the 2001-05 Civic, the 2002-07 and 2010 and 2011 CR-V, the 2003-11 Element, the 2007 Fit, the 2002-04 Odyssey, the 2003-08 Pilot, and the 2006-14 Ridgeline pickup. Also included are certain 2003 Acura 3.2CL cars, as well as the 2013-16 ILX, the 2003-06 MDX, the 2007-16 RDX, the 2002-03 3.2TL, the 2004-06 and 2009-14 TL, and the 2010-13 ZDX.