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NHTSA expands investigation into faulty airbags

By Tomas Monzon
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Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, testifies on the Takata airbag recall during a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade in Washington, D.C., on June 2. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, testifies on the Takata airbag recall during a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade in Washington, D.C., on June 2. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, July 14 (UPI) -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has expanded its investigation into various air bag makers following reports of ineffective air bags.

Both Takata Corp. and ARC Automotive Inc. are now under investigation for potentially explosive airbags that they have supplied to such vehicles as Chrysler's Town and Country minivan and Kia's Optima sedan. The agency expanded its investigation after receiving complaints on two of these vehicles on separate occasions.

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In May, Takata acknowledged a defect in the deployment of its lateral air bags and began one of the largest vehicle recalls in U.S. history, targeting 33.8 million vehicles whose airbags could potentially explode and thrust metal pieces at drivers and passengers.

Though the complaints that sparked the investigation did not involve injuries, Takata airbags have been connected with at least six deaths in the United States and over a hundred injuries.

RELATED Air bag recall VINs now online in searchable database

Automotive executives say Takata's recall program is likely to continue for up to 18 months depending on whether more disclosures of faulty airbags surface.

In India, Nissan recalled 12,000 vehicles, including its Sunny sedan and Micra compact car. Honda and Toyota have also initiated recalls worldwide, as have BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Subaru.

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U.S. drivers may check if their car is affected through the NHTSA's SaferCar.gov website whose database of affected vehicles is constantly being updated.

RELATED Takata declares air bags defective in more than 33 million vehicles

Takata executives said the problem involves the inflators within an airbag, which degrade over time with exposure to moisture and cause a chemical propellant to ignite rapidly. The extra pressure that builds up within the bag causes it to rupture and explode.

The extensive recall program has led Takata to struggle to supply replacement parts.

RELATED Toyota, Nissan recall 6.6 million more cars, citing faulty Takata airbags

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