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Chris Miller

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Takata Strikes Back with a Vengeance

I realize that we’re all probably sick of hearing about the Takata airbag recalls. Take a deep breath because it’s not over yet! As faulty Takata airbags have caused one of the largest recalls in history, endangering millions of lives, most of us assumed that all the makes and models affected by the Takata recall had been identified and that their owners were working through the process of securing the necessary repairs. Sadly, that light at the end of the tunnel is not yet in sight, as more recalls are regularly announced.

As the saga continues, dealership service departments, for lack of better parts, install faulty Takata airbags in vehicles to this day, knowing full well they will need to be repaired in the future. Also, under a special NHTSA allowance due to a shortage of airbags, some automobile manufacturers were, up until recently, still installing these faulty airbags in new vehicles coming off the assembly line. NHTSA permitted the action as long as those airbags are replaced by the end of 2019. Dealership service departments followed suit, replacing older faulty Takata airbags with newer faulty Takata airbags. These Takata airbags do not pose an immediate threat as they only become defective after a certain period and under certain atmospheric conditions. 

While regulators allowed the continued use of Takata airbags in new and recalled vehicles to keep up with demand, the rate of newly identified recalls suggests that we'll be dealing with the airbag crisis for some time. By the time all existing Takata airbags are repaired, we could be looking at a whole new (and significant) batch that need replacing.

Since the beginning of 2019, Takata recalls amount to more than 4 million vehicles, including Ford (1.4 million vehicles), Toyota/Lexus (1.7 million vehicles) and FCA (1.4 million vehicles). Takata recalls are NOT going away but are, in fact, increasing.

While 2018 marked the first year in which airbag recalls fell from the top spot, 2019 is off to a torrid pace. Over a one-week stretch in late February 2019, almost 4.5 million vehicles from Toyota, BMW, Ford, Mercedes, Subaru, FCA, and Ferrari were targeted with Takata airbag recalls. These staggering totals place Takata back on track as the auto industry’s largest source of recalls for 2019, long after most thought the issue was under control.

Manufacturers and dealers must be diligent and aggressive in notifying consumers and repairing these vehicles. While customer pay revenue is significant, warranty work can't fall by the wayside. In fact, customers frequently accept any needed additional recommendations at the same time as the recall work, just due to the convenience. 

Be proactive in doing anything and everything you can to notify recall customers in your market area to service these vehicles and make them safe. 

Don't let the urgency of Takata airbag recalls slip from the top of mind to an afterthought. Take care of your customers. Do whatever it takes to assist them. And you will find that your efforts pay off in increased community safety, customer pay work, and SSI.

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