I’ve written in the past about how to find out if your car was equipped with one of the recalled defective Takata airbags. A Las Vegas woman in a 2002 Honda Accord she purchased in the summer of 2016 from a scrapyard was seriously injured earlier this year when the Takata airbag in her car deployed, sending metal shrapnel into her throat. The airbag was in a model that was not recalled.
How did the airbag end up in her car? Vehicles that end up in salvage yards are sometimes dismantled, with various parts sold to repair shops and the like to be used as replacement parts. There is nothing illegal about this, but it comes with a heavy price when the part used had been recalled.
That is exactly what happened to the injured woman. The woman’s car did not originally contain a recalled Takata airbag. Instead, it was probably taken or stolen from another Accord model in a salvage yard. After an official inspection of her car, the airbag inflator was traced to the recalled 2001 Accord, which is one of the most dangerous ones on the recall list.
In an AP article on the story, the woman’s family says they were unaware of the vehicle’s history, including that it contained parts for a vehicle under recall for the airbag defect.
“It’s a tragedy that shouldn’t have happened,” an attorney for the family tells the AP.” You would think in today’s age with communications technology these types of things should not be allowed to happen.”
No state or federal agency monitors recalled parts
Unfortunately, the public is at risk when purchasing a salvage vehicle because there is no state or federal agency that monitors the re-use of recalled parts.
While consumers can check a VIN against the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website to check for recalls, that database doesn’t take into account repairs made once a vehicle is deemed to be out of service.
What can be done to prevent such accidents?
Michael Brooks, acting director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety believes there should be a program to prevent such accidents from occurring. A registry or national data base that lists the disposition of all recalled parts would help greatly. Those operating salvage yards would be legally responsible for listing any parts that leave their premises.
To its credit, Honda does have a program to buy back airbags made by Takata, in order get them out of circulation.
I would caution anyone who buys a used car to check its crash history. Also, do be cautious about buying a car from a salvage company because as of right now, there is no way to know if it might contain a dangerous recalled part.
Please, let’s be safe out there.
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