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Investigation Reveals Cause of Exploding Takata Airbags

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Santa Clara, CAAn investigation into exploding Takata airbags has determined that there are a number of contributing factors, all of which must act in combination to cause an explosion, the Associated Press (AP) reports.

Those factors include but are not limited to the presence of moisture that degrades the ammonium nitrate, a source wishing to remain anonymous revealed to AP.

The exploding Takata airbags hurl shrapnel into drivers and passengers and have so far been responsible for 139 injuries globally and at least 10 deaths.

The results of the scientific investigation, initiated by 10 of Takata's customers, Toyota, BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Subaru, will be revealed this week. The investigation was done in February, 2015, by Orbital ATK, a Virginia-based rocket science company that makes rocket propulsion systems, small arms ammunition, warhead fuses and missile controls.

David Kelly, a former acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, was appointed as project manager for the investigation by the automakers.

Since 2008, the number of recalled vehicles with potentially defective Takata air bags has risen to approximately 36 million globally, with 14 car and truck companies recalling some 24 million vehicles in the US to replace the faulty inflators.

According to analysists, some 50 million or more Takata inflators remain to be recalled in US cars and trucks. Takata must prove to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the inflators are safe or all of them will be recalled starting in 2018, AP reports.

According to a report by CNN, engineers at Takata first noticed problems with the chemical mix used in its airbags over a decade ago. The problem has to do with aspirin-sized Ammonium nitrate tablets that are put in a metal canister inside the airbag, and are designed to produce a gas that inflates the bag. However, extreme temperature can destabilize the ammonium nitrate causing the metal canister to explode, according to patent application documents filed by Takata.

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READER COMMENTS

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I have a 2013 Kia Sportage. I was in a minor rear end collision, less tan 5 mph, and my airbag deployed. The value of the vehicle has dropped nearly $5,000 just because of the deployment. The body shop said that the sensors on this model are set so low that it takes nearly nothing to set them off. There a law as to the minimum speed at which airbags should deploy.

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