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Defective Takata Airbags Tested in 2004, Says NYT

A New York Times article recently revealed that tests on the deadly and defective Takata airbags were carried out by the Japanese manufacturer as early as 2004. The article quoted a former senior technician in the company’s testing lab as stating that the company conducted secret safety tests on the defective Takata airbags. The tests were reportedly conducted during weekends, holidays and after work hours at the company’s testing lab near Detroit during the summer of 2004.

Defective Takata Airbags Cause Injuries

According to the report, the tests on the defective Takata airbags were conducted after reports surfaced that an Alabama driver suffered severe injuries when metal shards were ejected from the airbag assembly. The tests revealed that the steel inflaters in two of the airbags cracked, which could lead to a system rupture and flying debris. Engineers were reportedly preparing for a massive recall on the defective Takata airbags and were designing possible repairs for the flawed design.

Did Manufacturer Cover Up Defective Takata Airbags?

The article also stated that company executives ordered the engineers to delete their records of testing the defective Takata airbags and to dispose of the flawed inflaters. The executives also did not report the defective Takata airbags to federal safety agencies, according to two former testing lab employees. The employees spoke to the Times on the condition of anonymity due to their continuing relationship with the manufacturer, but expressed concerns that the company was forsaking customer safety and feared the bad publicity a recall would bring.

Mishaps Surround Reports of Defective Takata Airbags

The issues with the metal inflaters were not the only safety concerns surrounding the defective Takata airbags. The company also suffered mishaps with the propellant used in the airbag deployment system. The company issued a recall in several Southern states after reports surfaced that the chemical propellant became highly volatile in humid conditions. Company emails also showed that some automakers received potentially defective Takata airbags that were wet or damaged from falling off of forklifts prior to delivery.

Company Refutes Report on Defective Takata Airbags

In a follow-up report, executives refuted the earlier report of secret testing on defective Takata airbags. The company released a statement claiming that the Times article “tells a story that is simply untrue” and relayed “multiple events occurring at different times and for different purposes.” The statement also claimed that the company was not aware of the defective Takata airbags until “the middle of 2005”, a year after the 2004 accident which injured an Alabama driver. Takata executives will have a chance to tell their side of the story in response to a subpoena issued by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York earlier this week.

Source: New York Times: (1) (2)

Know Your Rights in a Defective Takata Airbags Case

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