BUSINESS

Automakers expand Takata air bag recalls after new problem found

About 637,000 Toyota vehicles in the U.S. are part of an expanded Takata air bag recall

A new problem has been found with Takata Corp. air bags, prompting Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. to expand their recalls by 6.5 million vehicles.

In the U.S., about 637,000 Toyota vehicles are being recalled. Nissan has not yet released the U.S. numbers for its vehicles.

In total, Toyota said Wednesday that it was recalling nearly 5 million more vehicles across the globe for the air bag inflator problem.

The recall affects 35 models, including the Corolla subcompact, RAV4 sport utility vehicle and Tundra pickup, produced from March 2003 through November 2007.

In the latest recall, front passenger and front driver-side air bag inflators can deploy abnormally, or rupture, and put a person in a crash at greater risk of injury.

This is different from an earlier problem with Takata air bag inflators that deployed with too much force, which has affected a range of automakers including Honda Motor Co., Chrysler, BMW and Ford Motor Co. At least six people have died worldwide due to that defect.

When combined with the earlier recalls, Toyota's Takata-related recalls have increased to 8.1 million vehicles.

Nissan recalled an additional 1.56 million vehicles globally for the new Takata problem, increasing the company’s Takata-related recalls to about 4 million.

The latest recall affects the Sentra compact, Caravan van and X-Trail sport utility vehicle, made from 2004 through 2007, Nissan said. The automaker said it will test the inflators and replace them as needed.

Toyota said it will replace the problem inflators on the driver side with inflators made by Daicel Corp., another Japanese supplier.

Toyota will continue to use Takata “since we have not at this point identified parts from a different supplier that are compatible,” the company said in a statement.

Karl Brauer, senior insights director at Kelley Blue Book, said the scale of Takata’s air bag recall “represents the worst-case scenario when a single supplier controls a large portion of the global automotive market.”

“This particular recall has been gestating for over a decade, which raises a troubling question,” he said. “How many more massive, single-supplier recalls are waiting to be discovered, even as the full scope of this one becomes clear?”

Takata has not been able to keep up with the demand for replacement inflators.

Tokyo-based Honda, which has recalled the most vehicles because of Takata air bag problems, said it was studying the new problem and hasn't made a decision yet about expanding its recalls.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

9:48 a.m.: This post has been updated with U.S. recall numbers and comment from Kelley Blue Book.

This post was first published at 6:48 a.m.

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