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Hyundai Appears to Have Escaped the Horror of Takata Air Bags, Others Not So Lucky

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Washington, DCAmongst the millions of vehicles, 19 deaths globally and scores of horrific airbag injuries attributed to the Takata defective airbags recall, there appears to be little evidence that one manufacturer in particular, Hyundai, had been ensnared by the grievous Takata airbag debacle. While Hyundai has been waging a quiet war, since last year on the use of after-market, ‘counterfeit’ parts v. OEM (original equipment manufacturer), Hyundai appears to have been using airbags made in the US for its vehicles. There is no evidence of an airbag injuries lawsuit involving Hyundai associated with defective airbags manufactured by Takata.

The latter came to the fore when defective airbags causing airbag injuries were tied to airbags manufactured by the now-troubled Takata of Japan, which years ago opted for a less-expensive, but more volatile propellant known to be prone to instability with age, in areas of high humidity and wide variances in temperature. As is now well-documented, relatively minor collisions that trigger the airbag mechanism explodes with such force, the metal casing containing the collapsed airbag is blown apart, sending shards of sharp metal through the airbag and into the passenger compartment. Occupants become sitting ducks, and scores of drivers and / or their passengers have suffered grievous airbag injuries.

Much has been written about Karina Dorado, the young woman from Las Vegas whose trachea was punctured by sharp metal originating from the airbag casing in her used Honda Accord when a previously-recalled defective airbag manufactured by Takata – but installed in her used car under a salvage title – deployed.

There have been scores of injuries – many resulting in airbag lawsuits – and 19 deaths.

Included amongst those who did not survive is Huma Hanif, a Texas girl of 17 who was involved in a relatively minor “fender-bender” with her 2002 Honda Civic. State troopers quoted in ABC 13 (04/07/16) say it was a collision from which Hanif should have merely walked away.

Instead, razor-sharp metal shrapnel from the airbag casing ripped into her neck, severing carotid arteries. The well-liked 17-year-old teen was dead within mere seconds, according to ABC 13 Texas. Investigators say the crash should not have killed Hanif.

Honda is amongst the manufactures having installed Takata airbags in good faith, believing them to be safe. Their cars are now amongst the scores of vehicles tied up in a global recall, amidst a frantic effort to rid affected vehicles of the dangerously defective airbags. Honda, for its part, has been scouring wrecking yards and parts depots, looking for recalled Takata airbags that may have been removed from one of their cars, and buying them back to ensure they’re not re-used.

In so doing, Honda is trying to avoid what happened to Karina Dorado. The car she was driving when she suffered her airbag injuries had been in a wreck in Phoenix, Arizona in 2014 and given a salvage title. While the car had been ‘written off’ for insurance purposes, Orlando 6 explains that cars with salvage titles are indeed considered total losses for the insurance company, “but insurance adjustors believe there is money to be made at an auction, and, with the right repairs, the car can be made road worthy again.”

Thus, the Phoenix wreck that would eventually be repaired and find its way into the Dorado garage in Las Vegas was fixed, with part of that repair involving replacement of the airbag system that had deployed in Phoenix.

The airbag used to repair the 2002 Honda Accord had originally been in a 2001 Accord with a Takata recall notice attached to it.

However the airbag did not come in under recall, as the original owners of the 2001 car did not respond to the airbag notice. Meanwhile, the recalled airbag had somehow found its way to a used parts depot – purchased as a previously enjoyed (but not deployed) part, and duly installed in the 2002 Honda Accord soon to be owned by Dorado.

News 6 Orlando (08/11/17) makes the point that it is illegal to sell a used automotive part, subject to a recall, that has not been repaired or rehabilitated. That’s according to the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act of 2000.


Dorado could have easily suffered the same fate as Hanif, but was spared. Her family has launched an airbag injury lawsuit.

In the meantime, an exhaustive list of recalled vehicles published at the end of August by the New York Daily News makes no reference to vehicles manufactured by Hyundai. It is presumed, however that the manufacturer is continuing its efforts to stem the flow of so-called ‘counterfeit’ replacement parts (not recalled) that may negatively impact occupants, in other ways…

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READER COMMENTS

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I opened a 2007 Volkswagen Jetta in Janurary of 2011 I was hit by another car my car was total out. My air bags never deployed my daughter was slammed up against the window, Volkswagen said there were no fault and the impact was hard enough. But my whole front end was completely smashed.

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