A RAV4, one of the recalled Toyota vehicles

Approximately 138,000 Toyota vehicles from the late 1990s and early 2000s—including RAV4 SUVs and Celica and Supra coupes—have been recalled for dangerous Takata airbags that can cause serious or fatal injuries to vehicle occupants.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, these airbags may have improperly sealed inflators. As a result, they may allow too much moisture in, which could cause the airbags to deploy without enough force to protect occupants in a crash, or the airbags could rupture and spray sharp metal fragments directly at the people sitting in front of them. Both conditions could cause serious injuries or death.

The Takata airbags in this recall are of a different design from those included in a previous recall of Takata airbags made between 2002 and 2015. Unlike those airbags, the ones in these Toyotas have what are called non-azide driver frontal airbag inflators (NADI). They were produced between May 1, 1995, and Aug. 31, 1999, and were also used in vehicles from Acura, Audi, BMWHonda, Isuzu, and Mitsubishi.

BMW has already issued a recall for certain older vehicles, including some that should not be driven. Acura, Honda, Isuzu, and Mitsubishi have also issued recalls. Safety investigators are aware of at least one injury and two fatalities outside the U.S. related to these specific airbags.

NHTSA has called the earlier and still ongoing recall of airbags made by the major automotive parts supplier Takata “the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history.” Over 41.6 million vehicles have been recalled due to the faulty airbags, which have been associated with 16 deaths in the U.S. and at least 24 deaths and 300 injuries worldwide.

The Details

Vehicles recalled:

• Certain 1998 through 2000 Toyota RAV4 SUVs manufactured between June 4, 1997, and Aug. 31, 1999

• Certain 1998 through 1999 Toyota RAV4 EVs manufactured between June 16, 1997, and Aug. 31, 1999

• Certain 1997 and 1998 Toyota Supra coupes manufactured between March 10, 1997, and Aug. 3, 1999

• Certain 1997 and 1998 Toyota Celica coupes manufactured between Aug. 19, 1997, and May 7, 1999

The problem: These vehicles have faulty airbag inflators that might not work properly because of excessive moisture. In a crash, the airbags might not deploy correctly, or they could launch metal fragments at occupants. Both conditions could cause serious injury.

The fix: A replacement inflator is not yet available. When it is, Toyota dealers will replace the faulty airbag inflators free of charge.

How to contact the manufacturer: Toyota says the recall is expected to begin March 22, 2020. Owners may contact Toyota customer service at 888-270-9371. Toyota’s own numbers for this recall are 20TB01 and 20TA01.

NHTSA campaign number: 20V033

Check to see whether your vehicle has an open recall: NHTSA’s website will tell you whether your vehicle has any open recalls that need to be addressed.

If you plug your car’s 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN) into NHTSA’s website and a recall doesn’t appear, it means your vehicle doesn’t currently have any open recalls. Because automakers issue recalls often, and for many older vehicles, we recommend checking back regularly to see whether your vehicle has had a recall issued.

Stay informed about recalls that might affect your vehicle by using our Car Recall Tracker. Create a free account now to become a CR member.

A MKIV Toyota Supra, one of the recalled vehicles