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Nissan issues ‘do not drive’ warning for older vehicles, says airbags can explode

Nissan has issued a “do not drive” warning for 83,920 vehicles from model years 2002-2006 with recalled Takata airbags.

The warning covers certain model year 2002-2006 Nissan Sentras, 2002-2004 Nissan Pathfinders and 2002-2003 Infiniti QX4s.

The vehicles were already subject to open Takata airbag recalls from 2020. A vehicle’s frontal passenger airbag inflators may explode due to “propellant degradation occurring after long-term exposure to high absolute humidity, high temperatures, and high temperature cycling,” according to the recall notices from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

“Due to the age of the vehicles equipped with defective Takata airbag inflators, there is an increased risk the inflator could explode during an airbag deployment, propelling sharp metal fragments which can cause serious injury or death,” Nissan said on its website.

NHTSA said vehicle owners should check if their car has an open Takata airbag recall, and if so, should schedule a free repair at their dealerships and follow warnings from the manufacturer. Nissan and Infiniti are offering free towing, mobile repair and, in some places, loaner vehicles.

“Even minor crashes can result in exploding Takata airbags that can kill or produce life-altering, gruesome injuries,” NHTSA said in a press release. “Older model year vehicles put their occupants at higher risk, as the age of the airbag is one of the contributing factors.”

An estimated 67 million Takata airbags—ranging across vehicles from multiple automakers—have been recalled because exposure over time to heat and humidity can cause metal parts inside the air bag to shoot out at drivers or passengers when deployed, according to NHTSA. The agency said 27 people have been killed by a defective Takata airbag and over 400 people have been injured.

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The Independent Monitor of Takata and the Coordinated Remedy Program called the recalls “the largest and most complex vehicle recalls in U.S. history.” As of 2021, approximately 50 million defective Takata airbag inflators had been repaired, with the most dangerous air bags replaced first, the group noted.

In 2017, Takata pleaded guilty to wire fraud and agreed to pay $1 billion in criminal penalties for selling the faulty airbag inflators. Later that year, the company filed for bankruptcy.

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