Keep an eye on your mailbox: You might get a critical recall notice in the coming weeks. In response to earlier orders that called for additional expansions to its massive ongoing recall, Takata Corp. filed its third scheduled defect notice — one that expands its ongoing recall by another 3.3 million airbag inflators. Documents posted online by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicated the expansion covers certain 2009, 2010 and 2013 model-year vehicles in specific geographic zones across three campaigns.
Related: Is Your Car Part of the Takata Airbag Recall?
The expansion affects more than a dozen automakers, although specific manufacturers have yet to disclose the affected models. That should happen as automakers "file recall notices with NHTSA in the coming days," the administration told in a statement.
Owners can enter their vehicle identification numbers on NHTSA's recall search tool to see if their cars are affected. If so, it's crucial that they "contact their local dealer for the free repair as soon as they receive notice from their vehicle manufacturer that parts are available," NHTSA's statement said.
Those cars are likely under existing Takata recalls in certain regions already, as regulators have directed the Japanese auto supplier to take a phased approach to its airbag recall by region. The inflator campaign, which is the largest automotive recall ever, encompassed some 46 million airbag inflators in some 34 million cars as of November 2017. NHTSA says this month's expansion brings the total to around 50 million inflators — part of a ramp-up that will total 65 million to 70 million inflators by December 2019.
An independent monitor estimated in 2017 that about 57 percent of affected inflators and 64 percent of affected vehicles remained unrepaired as of September. When subjected to long-term humidity exposure, Takata's ammonium-nitrate inflators can rupture during an airbag deployment to send metal fragments into the cabin, a condition that's been blamed for at least 13 deaths nationwide. Regulators have concluded that all of Takata's non-desiccated ammonium nitrate inflators would eventually reach that threshold and become "unreasonably dangerous."
In early 2017, Takata pleaded guilty to fraud charges and agreed to pay $1 billion to settle a U.S. Justice Department criminal investigation. The supplier and its U.S. arm then filed for bankruptcy in June. Takata will continue to produce replacement inflators through 2020. Michigan-based Key Safety Systems, a company owned by Chinese auto parts maker Ningbo Joyson Electronic, acquired "substantially all" of Takata's assets.
We'll keep tabs on which new cars, if any, fall under the recall; all of that information will go into our main Takata recall story.
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