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Are You Driving Around With Deadly Air Bags?

Photograph by Twenty20

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced on Saturday that an additional 3.3 million air bag inflators are being added to what is now the largest automotive recall in US history. According to NHTSA, the recalls issued by Japanese air bag maker Takata began in May 2016 and will continue through December 2019, bringing the number of affected air bags to between 65-70 million.

The faulty air bags have resulted in at least 20 deaths and more than 180 injuries worldwide.

The problem with the air bags is centered on a chemical inside the air bag inflator called ammonium nitrate, which is used to inflate the air bag during a crash. Unfortunately, the chemical becomes unstable after years of exposure to humidity and temperature fluctuations. That deterioration can make the inflator explode and hurl shrapnel throughout the vehicle during a crash, turning the air bag that was meant to protect you into a potentially deadly device.

The latest recalls affect front air bags in certain 2009, 2010 and 2013 vehicles made by Honda, Toyota, Audi, BMW, Daimler Vans, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Jaguar-Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Tesla. Specific models will be provided by automakers and filed with NHTSA later this month.

Visit the NHTSA website to sign up for updates and check the list of makes, models and model years of affected vehicles. You can also use their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) tool to see if your vehicle is part of the recall.

As parents, in particular, we are carrying precious cargo, so do not pass go, do not collect $200 until you check and see if your car is affected. Once you're done checking, share this information with your friends and family. This recall is so large that, chances are, you know people whose vehicles are affected.

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