A potentially fatal air bag defect has prompted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to notify the owners of 7.8 million vehicles, urging them to replace the air bags. According to the agency’s press release, the recall of the affected vehicles began as far back as 18 months ago, and continued as recently as this week. Models affected include Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors vehicles.
The air bags, supplied by Takata, have an unstable propellant that can explode even in a minor accident, causing metal shards to fly. According to TIME magazine, the defective air bags have caused at least three deaths and over 100 injuries.
NHTSA told car owners that the notification “comes with urgency”, particularly for car owners located in Florida, Puerto Rico, limited areas near the Gulf of Mexico in Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Louisiana, as well as Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands and Hawaii.
“Responding to these recalls, whether old or new, is essential to personal safety and it will help aid our ongoing investigation into Takata airbags and what appears to be a problem related to extended exposure to consistently high humidity and temperatures,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman in the release.
The NHTSA told consumers that they needed to act swiftly, yet when many followed-up they were met with obstacles, NYT reports. The NHTSA website feature that allows consumers to look up the recall status of their car by vehicle identification number, for one, was not working. Many people who tried the agency’s hotline (1-888-327-4236) were put on hold. Furthermore, car owners were not able to actually replace the defective parts because they were not available.
“N.H.T.S.A. is experiencing intermittent network issues that are making some functions on SaferCar.gov temporarily unavailable,” according to NYT, also added “We apologize for the inconvenience and encourage you to try back later.” the agency stated.