According to documents from the National Highway Transport Safety Administration, inflators in 660 airbags recovered and tested following the biggest recall in automotive history have ruptured.
The media reports state the documents have been presented recently and show 660 airbags out of 245,000 ruptured when subjected to tests – which is about one in every 370. Takata is now required to regularly submit results from testing as part of its consent order obligations – the defective airbags produced by the company have so far been linked to 15 fatalities and more than 100 critical injuries in the US alone. While the exact cause is yet unknown, it is widely believed the issue has to do with a manufacturing defect that renders the airbags’ ammonium nitrate inflators vulnerable to degradation in hot and humid climates. When it fails, the detonation occurring in case of an accident makes the airbag turn into a weapon – sending metal and plastic shrapnel into the cabin.
Another study, which has been funded by the affected automakers, has discovered the ammonium nitrate inflators are generally becoming instable as they grow older. Moisture, changing temperatures and the inexorable passage of time will make the chemical more susceptible to a malfunction. Due to the problem being partly age-related, the recall is now prioritizing not only cars located in humid areas, but also the oldest examples everywhere.