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December 21, 2014

Recall of air bags includes vehicles made at HMA

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Posted: Monday, June 23, 2014 11:21 pm | Updated: 5:04 pm, Wed Jun 25, 2014.

A massive recall of air bags on Monday that pushed the U.S. auto industry to a new annual record for safety recalls in less than half a year will include some vehicles produced at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama Inc. in Lincoln.

Automakers are recalling millions of vehicles to replace defective explosive charges in air bags that can send metal shrapnel flying at occupants during a crash. Car companies have now called back at least 31.4 million vehicles in the U.S. this year, breaking the industry’s record for annual recalls of 30.8 million set in 2004. The air bag issue so far accounts for about 3 million of that and is likely to grow.

Honda said it is recalling 2 million vehicles, including 2001-2007 Accords, 2001-2005 Civics, 2002-2006 CR-Vs, 2002-2004 Odyssey vans, 2003-2007 Pilots, 2003-2011 Elements and other Honda and Acura models. The Odyssey vans and Pilots are models produced at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama Inc.

Chris Martin, a Western Region public relations representative from Honda North America Inc., confirmed the recall includes the models made in Lincoln but did not give a specific number of vehicles affected by it.

Representatives in the service departments of various local Honda and Ford dealerships in Talladega, Sylacauga and Oxford were contacted Monday, but said they had not been apprised of this most recent recall and could not comment.

The air bags, made by Takata Corp., are used in millions of vehicles made by Honda, Nissan, Ford, Chrysler, Mazda and BMW, underscoring how increasing use of common parts is amplifying safety problems. To cut costs, automakers are designing different models to share platforms and many parts, so a single defect can affect millions more vehicles than in the past.

Honda and Nissan are recalling the air bags, while others automakers are characterizing the defect differently. But Ford, Chrysler, Mazda and BMW are considering recalls, according to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Toyota recalled about 766,000 in the U.S. for the same defect earlier this month.

Automakers are split on how they are labeling the air bag action. 

Nissan is calling back 228,000 vehicles in North America, including the Infiniti FX35 and Pathfinder. But Ford and Chrysler said they are conducting a “field action” in cooperation with the NHTSA to collect air bag inflators from cars for the agency’s investigation into the problem. A Mazda spokesman described its action as “special service program” of 34,600 vehicles that works like a recall.

The NHTSA has found that on some of vehicles, the propellant housed in a metal canister in the system can burn too quickly, causing the container to explode. If that happens, metal shards will spray into the passenger cabin. Sometimes the problem is with the driver’s air bag; at other times it occurs on the passenger side.

Millions of vehicles in the U.S. and elsewhere have previously been recalled for the problem. But NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation started receiving more reports of incidents of air bag inflator ruptures last year. The agency said it learned of three injuries caused by the problem.

A review found at least six incidents that occurred in hot and humid regions such as Florida and Puerto Rico. Investigators are looking into whether high humidity is causing the propellant in the air bag canisters to burn too quickly.

Takata has asked automakers to look at cars registered in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. But Honda said it would also recall vehicles in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas, based on the high humidity levels in those states.

Daily Home Staff Writer Shane Dunaway contributed to this report.

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