Toyota recalls 247,000 vehicles over airbag issue

(October 21, 2014) Toyota has recalled 247,000 cars, SUVs and pickup trucks in the United States because of potentially defective front passenger airbag inflators from Japan's Takata Corp. that can rupture and spray metal shrapnel, according to U.S. safety regulators, according to Reuters news service.

That raised the number of vehicles affected by regional recalls launched in June by several automakers due to the Takata airbags to more than 4.5 million. The regional recalls by Toyota and other automakers including Honda and Chrysler Group began in certain high-humidity areas of the U.S. after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started investigating reports of airbag explosions in Florida and Puerto Rico.

Prompted by NHTSA, Takata and automakers have been trying to determine whether exposure to high humidity caused any defect in the inflators collected though the regional recalls.

"At this point, the issue appears to be a problem related to extended exposure to consistently high humidity," NHTSA said in a statement today. "However, we are leaving no stone unturned in our aggressive pursuit to track down the full geographic scope of this issue."

Toyota recovered replaced airbag inflators from areas of South Florida and Takata evaluated them starting in August, according to the NHTSA documents. On Oct. 10, Takata informed Toyota that a number of the inflators performed "improperly" during testing. Five days later, after reviewing the data with NHTSA, Toyota decided on the recall.

Over the last six years, Takata has recalled about 16 million vehicles globally for defective airbags, including the regional recalls.

The Toyota vehicles affected by this week's recall are from model years 2002 through 2005, according to the NHTSA documents. They include the Lexus SC coupe, Toyota Corolla small car, Corolla Matrix small car, Sequoia SUV and Tundra full-size pickup. Also part of the recall is General Motors' Pontiac Vibe, which was built by Toyota, the sibling of the Matrix.

The vehicles being recalled are registered or originally sold in areas of South Florida, along the Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Saipan and American Samoa, according to the NHTSA documents.

Source: Reuters