Toyota Issues ‘Do Not Drive’ Advisory for 50,000 US Vehicles Over Faulty Airbag Fears

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Another automaker has issued a recall notice because of the now infamous Takata airbag inflators, which can explode on deployment.

A major automaker, the Toyota Motor Corporation, has issued an urgent “Do Not Drive” advisory for at least 50,000 vehicles in the United States over concerns their airbag could explode and spew out shrapnel if deployed.

In a Jan. 25 statement, the car manufacturer said the advisory covers some 2003-2004 Corollas, 2003-2004 Corolla Matrix, and 2004-2005 RAV4s with defective Takata airbag inflators.

Over the last ten years, 100 million Takata airbag inflators have been recalled by more than 20 automakers around the world in what has become the most significant auto safety callback in history. Since at least 2009, 30 deaths and over 400 injuries have been attributed to the airbags, which can explode on deployment, launching shrapnel.
“Certain airbags found in the subject vehicles are under an URGENT airbag safety recall,” Toyota said.

“Due to the age of the vehicles, if the airbag deploys, a part inside is more likely to explode and shoot sharp metal fragments, which could cause serious injury or death to the driver or passengers.”

Toyota said the RAV4 recall only involves the driver-side airbag, while the other recalls involve only the front passenger airbag. Some Corolla and Corolla Matrix models are part of a second notice over fears the airbag can deploy even without the impact of a crash.

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Toyota’s media statement said, “Owners should not drive these vehicles until the free safety recall repair has been conducted. ”

“Toyota urges owners to contact their local dealer instead of driving their vehicle to be repaired.”

Don’t Drive, Call Toyota Car Dealer

According to Toyota, rather than drive to get the car fixed, owners contact their local Toyota dealer to arrange a tow, mobile repair, or several other options that don’t involve getting behind the wheel. If in doubt, an online tool is here to check if your vehicle is part of the recall. It’s unclear if the “Do Not Drive” advisory was prompted by an accident or other incident.

The metal piece from the airbag that was involved in the victim's death. (Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office)
The metal piece from the airbag that was involved in the victim’s death. (Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office)
Recalls for cars with Takata airbags first started in 2013 but it’s believed the reported issues may have started at least a decade before. Later investigations found that the company used volatile ammonium nitrate to create a small controlled explosion and inflate the airbags on impact.

The propellant can deteriorate over time, especially when exposed to conditions such as high temperatures and humidity. The airbags can explode with greater than intended force, shattering an internal metal canister and creating shrapnel. The ensuing scandal and financial strain over the recalls sent the Takata Corporation into bankruptcy in 2017.

A deployed airbag in a Chrysler vehicle at a junkyard in Medley, Fla., on on May 22, 2015. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A deployed airbag in a Chrysler vehicle at a junkyard in Medley, Fla., on on May 22, 2015. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Chrysler’s parent company, Stellantis, issued similar warnings in July last year over fears that 29,000 owners of 2003 Dodge Ram pickups were at risk after somebody was killed when a Takata airbag inflator exploded. Honda also issued a ‘Do Not Drive’ warning for over 8,000 Acura and Honda vehicles after a faulty Takata airbag inflator killed a man in Kentucky last year.

Toyota had to send out another recall notice in December last year over unrelated issues with its airbags. According to that recall, at least 1.12 million vehicles worldwide could have a short circuit in a sensor that could cause airbags not to deploy as designed.

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