WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- It’s supposed to help save your life in a car crash, but it could kill you. The airbags in your car might be part of the largest auto recall in US history, and you’re not necessarily safe even if you buy a new car.
Faulty Takata airbags are linked to 10 deaths, at least 100 injuries and a recall of nearly 70 million airbags in the U.S. alone.
Driving around with a recalled Takata airbag in your car is like having a grenade inside your steering wheel. If you get into a crash the airbag could rupture and spray shrapnel into the car.
The Department of Justice is investigating the Japanese company for selling the airbags.
“Some people ought to go to jail and that would send a message to the automobile industry,” said Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida).
Members of Congress obtained Emails written by workers at the Takata Corporation communicating problems with their airbag manufacturing process.
“Clearly as far back at 10 years ago engineers in the company knew that they were a problem and said something. Now we don’t have any proof that that got up to the corporate executives. But isn’t that always the way it is? No one takes responsibility and they fired the little guy instead of the corporation and its executives take the responsibility,” said Nelson.
Nelson sent letters to 14 auto-makers asking them to stop selling faulty Takata airbags in new cars. So far, only two companies agreed to transition from using the airbags – Toyota and Fiat Chrysler.
“It was particularly egregious to me that they were selling a brand new car and it’s got an air bag that’s got to be recalled in two years,” said Nelson.
Lawmakers asked Transportation secretary Anthony Foxx why he can’t force car companies to stop selling new cars with recalled Takata airbags. He said he doesn’t have the authority to stop them, but he hopes the car companies will voluntarily notify consumers.
“They point to legal mumbo jumbo but this is common sense and it’s personal consumer safety,” said Nelson.
Right now, consumers aren’t safe. Most of the cars with these defective airbags are still on the road. Two out of three drivers have not gotten them replaced, and Takata says it can't make the replacement parts fast enough.
To see if your vehicle is part of the recall, enter the vehicle’s VIN number at the link on the top right of the page.