Toyota recalls 1 million vehicles due to possible airbag problems
Toyota is urging owners of 50,000 older vehicles to immediately stop driving these cars and have their airbags repaired. According to the voluntary recall, the vehicles should not be driven until their defective airbags have been repaired or replaced.
The recall notice issued on Thursday affects the following models:
- 2003-2004 Corolla
- 2003-2004 Corolla Matrix
- 2004-2005 RAV4
Because of the age of the airbags, it is more likely that a part inside will explode and eject sharp metal fragments, which could cause serious injury or even death, the automaker said.
“Owners should NOT DRIVE these vehicles until the FREE safety recall repair has been completed,” Toyota said in the statement.
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Toyota said it recommends owners not drive the vehicles themselves to have the repairs done. Instead, vehicle owners should contact their local dealer, who can arrange a number of other options, such as carrying out a mobile repair at the vehicle's location or towing the car to the dealer.
The recalled RAV4s have Takata driver airbags, while the Corolla and Matrix models have them on the passenger side. The Corolla and Matrix are also subject to a separate recall because their airbags can deploy without an accident, the company said.
The voluntary recalls come about a month after Toyota recalled about a million cars in the U.S. because passenger airbags may not deploy properly in a crash, posing additional risk of injury to drivers.
Takata used volatile ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate airbags in an accident. However, the chemical blowing agent can degrade over time when exposed to high temperatures and humidity. It can explode with excessive force, blowing up a metal canister and spitting out shrapnel.
Since May 2009, at least 26 people have been killed by Takata inflators in the United States, and at least 30 people have died worldwide, including people in Malaysia and Australia. In addition, around 400 people were injured. The exploding airbags caused Takata of Japan to go bankrupt.
The automaker said the airbag will be repaired or replaced free of charge.
You can check whether your vehicle is part of the recall by entering your VIN number or license number at Toyota.com/recall or nhtsa.gov/recalls. Car owners can also call Toyota customer service at the Toyota Brand Engagement Center at 1-800-331-4331.
– With reporting from the Associated Press.
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