Consumer Reports: Why you can't get your dangerous airbags fixed

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It’s the biggest auto recall in U-S history: Nearly 50 million Takata airbags so far, with roughly 20 million more still to come. They were installed in cars, trucks and S-U-V’s, from 19 different automakers. The Takata airbags have defective inflators, which can turn the very device designed to protect people, into a miniature shrapnel bomb. And the toll of injuries and deaths has been grim. But only about half of these airbags have been replaced. So why are so many of these deadly airbags still on the road? Auto experts at Consumer Reports say they shouldn’t be and the time to take care of the problem is now.

Faulty inflators in Takata airbags have led to 15 deaths and hundreds of injuries in the U.S. alone. And more than 26 million potentially deadly airbags still need to be replaced. The highest risk areas are places with a lot of humidity and warm temperatures – places like Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and parts of California.

David Friedman was acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration when the recall went nationwide. He is now the director of cars and product policy for Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports. He says that manufacturers need to do more to help people understand how deadly these airbags are. But at the end of the day, it’s your responsibility to get your car fixed right away, if it’s got one of these defective Takata airbags.

Consumer Reports says finding out if your vehicle is involved in the recall –– is simple. Look for your your VIN number on the lower left-hand side of your windshield, or on your door jamb - and plug it into NHTSA’s website, www.NHTSA.gov/recalls. It will let you know if your vehicle is on the list. And then contact the dealer to arrange a free replacement, as soon as possible.

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