Owners of vehicles that could potentially have defective airbags manufactured by Takata are being told that they will have to wait months before a replacement can be provided to them.
The delay follows a massive recall initiated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with the Japanese supplier, at first for 18 million vehicles across the United States that was later almost doubled to a total of 34 million vehicles.
The faulty airbags are possibly fatal, as when the airbags would inflate during a crash, the inflator units could explode and send shrapnel into the cabin of the vehicle. The shrapnel can cause bruises, burns and abrasions, all of which could potentially kill passengers. There have been five reported fatalities in the United States, with over 100 injured passengers.
The recall is being expected to take some years to complete, but the NHTSA said that it is currently working to determine the cars that are affected by the recall. As of now, regulators are not yet aware of the car brands and specific models which the recall will involve.
However, CBS News reported that even setting up an appointment to have cars checked for the potentially fatal airbags could take months.
CBS News interviews Natalie Kubes, the owner of a 2002 model Honda Civic that is just one of the millions of car owners that are looking to have their Takata-manufactured airbags replaced.
"I tried to make an appointment for my car because of the recall and that's when they told me that there wasn't going to be any appointments available till November," Kubes said.
"If my car can essentially kill me as I go home today from my job, I would really like to get that fixed right away," Kubes also said, adding that it is just "unimaginable" that owners need to wait for months and simply hope that they do not get into accidents.
Dealerships all over the United States are now being flooded with calls coming from drivers that are worried that their airbags are defective. Ashlee Speight from a Honda dealership in Oakland said that they have already ordered as many as 3,000 replacement airbags, but there are still back orders, adding that the dealer can have an entire department devoted to the airbag recall with the rate that the calls are coming in.
According to Takata, the priority right now is to replace the faulty airbags for vehicles located in states with high humidity, as the company believes that moisture is causing the airbags to rupture.
Photo: Hector Alejandro | Flickr