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Another death attributed to the Takata airbag

The recalled Takata airbag appears to have claimed another victim last month when the airbag inflator in a 2002 Honda Accord ruptured and metal shrapnel from the blast killed the driver. This would be the fifth death linked to the defective inflator.

Honda has confirmed 3 deaths and 52 injuries from the Takata airbags used in their cars. A fatality from California last year is also under investigation and it is suspected to be linked to the Takata inflator.

Sadly, the vehicle involved in the Houston fatality had been recalled, but like many recalled vehicles in the U.S., it was never repaired. The problems with the Honda vehicles and defective airbags covered more than a decade and Honda issued limited recall after limited recall until pressure mounted after recent deaths in car accidents forced the automaker to issue a comprehensive recall.

But even after the recall was issued, the deaths continue, as millions of vehicles remain on the road, unrepaired. It is difficult to force a manufacturer to recall their defective vehicles, but an equally problematic issue develops after the recall. How to ensure the defective cars are fixed?

The problems stems from the fact that there is no way to force owners to have the repairs done, and as troubling, no way to ensure that a buyer of a used car is even aware there vehicle was recalled.

Recalls are expensive, so carmakers have a financial incentive to be less than exhaustive in their attempts to notify owners. And for used cars, the manufacturer may not have a way of locating those secondary buyers.

Of course, they would likely fight legislation that would mandate that all cars must have any pending recall repairs completed prior to any resale, as would car dealers, so the industry is no without blame on this issue.

Latimes.com, “Honda says Houston death may be linked to faulty airbag,” Jerry Hirsch, January 29, 2015

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