A defective Takata airbag has claimed the life of an 11th U.S. victim as the airbag’s massive recall—the largest in American history—drags into its third year.  

A 50-year-old woman driving a 2001 Honda Civic in Riverside County, California was killed on the night of Oct. 20, 2016, after she collided with another vehicle and her airbag deployed, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That Civic was first recalled in 2008, NHTSA says, and records indicate that the recall work was not performed.

Inflators in Takata airbags have been found to explode, sending shards of shrapnel through the airbags and causing some of the victims to bleed to death in otherwise routine, survivable crashes.

The Takata recall, which began in 2014, now includes nearly 70 million airbag inflators. Fourteen different car companies are carrying out the repairs, spanning 32 different vehicle makes.

The size and scope of the recall has left millions of cars still being driven around with the potentially dangerous airbags. Automakers and regulators have been struggling to ramp up manufacturing of replacement parts and to coordinate their delivery to the highest-risk vehicles first.

Older cars in the hotter climates pose the greatest risk, so those vehicles are being targeted first. If you have a newer car and drive in a colder climate, your risk is a lot lower.

See the chart below for a complete rundown of automakers affected and how many cars have been repaired.

Recall Completion Rate

AutomakerAirbags Repaired*Airbags Recalled*Completion Rate (%)*
Fiat Chrysler1,384,9254,400,77931.5
Daimler Trucks7592,59629.2
Daimler Vans22347,1960.5
*Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (as of Oct. 7, 2016)

Honda has been among the most aggressive of the automakers in repairing Takata airbags, with a 46-percent completion rate as of Oct. 7, 2016, according to NHTSA. It also has by far the most units affected—more than 16 million. And nine out of the 11 U.S. fatalities occurred in an Acura or Honda vehicle.

Toyota is the only other automaker that has repaired at least a third of its airbags, 1.3 million out of 3.4 million recalled.

General Motors has repaired less than 1 percent of the 324,706 airbags it has recalled. Daimler Vans USA LLC, the maker of Sprinter vans, has also repaired fewer than 1 percent. Ferrari’s completion rate is 8.5 percent.According to regulators, a combination of the car’s age and location puts drivers at greatest risk. The biggest danger is in areas of continuous high humidity, like Florida, Texas, and the Gulf Coast.

The explosive in the defective airbags, ammonium nitrate, begins to degrade somewhere around seven to 10 years, and it gets more unstable over time. Lab tests show that inflators pulled from these kinds of vehicles rupture about half the time, NHTSA said.

You can look up your car(s) by VIN number at the government’s Safercar.gov website or use the links on the Consumer Reports Takata FAQ page to go to the manufacturer website(s). 

2001 Honda Civic
2001 Honda Civic
Photo: NHTSA