Takata's bankruptcy filing Monday doesn't mean consumers still waiting for the replacement of potentially life-threatening airbags will be forgotten, say experts and automakers.

Takata plans to sell its main assets for $1.6 billion to U.S.-based Key Safety Systems but is keeping its controversial airbag operations until it completes the recall. Takata airbags have been blamed in 11 driver and passenger deaths in the U.S. As the bags inflate violently during accidents, some have sprayed metal shrapnel at drivers and passengers. 

Owners of millions of vehicles, equipped with 26 million of those dangerous Takata airbags, have been waiting months, even years, for them to be replaced.

Will the process change under the bankruptcy? Consumer Reports talked to many of the players involved. Below are answers to eight key questions about the bankruptcy and ongoing airbag recall. 

Will the Takata Bankruptcy Filing Stop Me From Getting My Replacement Airbags?

“No,” Takata said Monday in a statement. 

Those replacements should happen in the same time frame as before. Takata plans to maintain control of the airbag business and not slow production until the demand for replacement airbags has been met. It might take years to get all of the 42.6 million replacement airbags produced and installed into affected vehicles.

For many consumers who know they need a replacement airbag, the delays have only made their anxiety worse.

In early 2016, MJ Anderson and her husband John were told that the 2015 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter RV they’d purchased and renovated to be their retirement home on wheels was part of the Takata recall. More than a year later, and still waiting for the van to be fixed, Anderson says the entire process has been fraught with fear and frustration.

“We live in it full-time,” she said. “And when I’m driving I sometimes wonder that, if I’m in a fender bender, I could be killed.” Having sold their house and based their retirement around living in the Sprinter, the couple has few alternatives to driving their RV.

After the initial letter informing them of the issue, Anderson said there has been silence as to when her vehicle might be fixed. “The fact is that after a year of trying to pursue it, I received nothing but platitudes … I felt like [Mercedes-Benz] wasn’t taking me seriously.”

Unfortunately, living toward the top of the U.S., as the Andersons do in Wisconsin, leaves many drivers at the bottom of the priority list for replacement airbags.

Because heat and humidity have been found to exacerbate the potential of affected Takata airbags to catastrophically fail, drivers in southern states have been given top priority.

“Consumers are understandably concerned and confused,” says David Friedman, director of cars and products for Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports, and also former interim director of NHTSA.

“Automakers should respond to the bankruptcy by committing to ensure all affected consumers, especially those at greatest risk, will get replacement airbags quickly regardless of Takata's financial situation,” he says. 

Automakers have the ultimate responsibility to make sure the defective airbags are replaced, said Michelle Krebs, an analyst with Autotrader.com. Takata was the supplier, and the industry has already stepped in to contract with other airbag manufacturers to make more replacements. That may increase depending on what happens with Takata, Krebs said.

"It’s quite possible that the automakers will have to pony up and subsidize production of Takata replacement airbags," Krebs said. "It’s their names on the cars."

Consumers should talk to their dealers and get their cars fixed at no charge, Krebs said. If parts aren’t immediately available, get on a list for the dealer to call you when they are available. It pays to keep checking back, she said.

Does the Bankruptcy Mean Takata Is Closing Its Doors?

Probably not. A Michigan company, Key Safety Systems Inc., says it has agreed to buy the majority of Takata assets for $1.6 billion, except for the airbag operations. Key, a one-time small independent equipment manufacturer, is owned by Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp., a global automotive supplier.  

What If I’m Waiting on a Replacement Bag for My Replacement Bag?

An estimated 26 million airbags still need to be replaced. But early in the Takata crisis, some owners received airbags from the company that were newer than the ones they replaced, but they still had some of the same issues with their inflators that caused the older airbags to be defective. The thought was, better to be using airbags that were newer and possibly less prone to malfunction. Those replacement airbags eventually need to be replaced.

“Honda now uses recall replacement parts from alternative suppliers, not Takata, and we now have sufficient inventory of those inflators to continue recall repairs on all affected Honda and Acura models without any significant delay,” Honda spokesman Chris Martin said Monday. 

How Many Airbags Still Need to Be Replaced?

Of the 26 million airbags that still need to be replaced, about 16 million have already been replaced, though some of those needed to be replaced several times. These airbags use ammonium nitrate-based propellant without a chemical drying agent to explode and inflate the airbag in an accident. Officials believe that environmental moisture, high temperatures, and decay over time can lead to an airbag being improperly inflated, creating a stronger than expected ignition, and even spraying shrapnel into the car’s cabin.  

Will My Dealer Give Me a Loaner While I Wait for a New Airbag?

It depends. Some consumers have joined class-action lawsuits to attempt to get compensation. One suit, brought on behalf of BMW, Mazda, Subaru, and Toyota owners, reached a preliminary settlement in early June. Under the terms of that settlement, members of that class would get cash payments and loaner cars until replacement parts become available. (The deal still has to be approved by a judge this fall.)

“Dealers should respond to today’s news by making more loaner cars available for consumers,” said William Wallace, a policy analyst for Consumers Union. “It shouldn't take a lawsuit for consumers to get the safety and peace of mind they need.”  

What Happens to the Pending Lawsuits Against Takata?

Many consumers are taking part in class-action lawsuits, seeking compensation for their inconvenience and perhaps loaner cars while waiting for replacement airbags to become available.

One case resulted in a preliminary settlement to accelerate the replacement of airbag inflators for 15.8 million Toyota, Subaru, BMW, and Mazda vehicles. The four automakers agreed to pay $553 million collectively to fund an outreach program to make more consumers aware of the recall, increase replacement rates, compensate consumers for inconvenience, and to make rental cars available. A final approval hearing will be held in October.

“We do not expect a Takata bankruptcy to have an impact on claims pending against auto manufacturer defendants for their role in the airbag scandal,” said Peter Prieto, the lead counsel in the lawsuit.

Other class actions are pending against Honda, Ford, Nissan, as well as Takata, “to make sure all affected consumers receive the recourse they deserve,” Prieto said.

What do automakers who use Takata airbags say about the bankruptcy filing?

Takata’s bankruptcy filing will have no effect on Honda’s ability to complete recall repairs, spokesman Martin said Monday.

CR also contacted Fiat Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz, and Toyota for comment on the bankruptcy. With Honda, they together account for more than three-quarters of the affected airbags.

The three automakers said they did not want to comment specifically on the bankruptcy filing. A Toyota spokesman said the company was "continuing to track and evaluate the situation."

How Come My Car Is Included in the Recall but the Dealership Won't Fix It Today?

Because of the unprecedented scale of the Takata recall, it will take years to make enough replacement airbags. Regulators sorted vehicles into different categories based on age and geographic region. Vehicles with older airbags in the hottest, most humid parts of the country were given the highest priority. Newer models in colder states are last.  

Will the Federal Government Step In to Help Drivers Waiting for New Airbags?

In a statement, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is managing the recall, said that bankruptcy doesn’t end a manufacturer’s recall responsibilities under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

The agency stepped in at earlier stages of the recall to get Takata to cooperate with other manufacturers to increase the supply of replacement airbags.  

How We Got Here

See Consumer Reports FAQ on the Takata Recall controversy.

Check whether your car needs a recall by inputting the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) into NHTSA’s lookup tool. You can find your VIN on either a driver’s doorjamb sticker, or by checking at the driver’s side bottom of your windshield. If you don’t have your VIN, you can check your make, model, and year to see recall information and explanations by mechanics at CR.org/carrecalls.

Takata Airbag Recall Status

CompanyAirbags ReplacedPercent CompleteTotal Affected Airbags
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles1,855,89020.29,192,125
General Motors211,86129.0731,059
Daimler Vans USA LLC4,6573.2146,447
Jaguar Land Rover3,2005.854,888
Daimler Trucks North Am.87133.52,601