Volkswagen Beetles Called Back Over Faulty Takata Airbags
Volkswagen is the latest major auto manufacturer to recall cars over concerns about Takata airbags, nearly a decade after the safety devices were first linked to accidents and deaths.
VW is recalling nearly 40,000 Beetle vehicles, the company recently told federal regulators. Faulty inflators in the cars’ driver-side airbags could cause the devices to explode unexpectedly, the company said in a defect notice filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“The driver's side airbag inflator may explode due to propellant degradation occurring after long-term exposure to high absolute humidity, high temperatures, and high-temperature cycling,” VW said. “An inflator explosion may result in sharp metal fragments striking the driver or other occupants resulting in serious injury or death.”
The recall covers certain 2015 and 2016 VW Beetle vehicles. The company said it plans to notify owners of recalled vehicles by February 17. It will ask owners to bring their cars to a local dealer to have the airbags replaced, free of charge.
Takata Airbags Put Lives at Risk
What VW did not adequately explain is why the company took so long to call back the vehicles. Takata airbags have been known to put lives at risk for nearly a decade.
Some 100 million malfunctioning Takata airbags have been recalled around the world in the last 10 years. The recall is the largest by far on record in the U.S.
At least 25 people have been killed as a result of the defective airbags. Last year alone, two people reportedly died in separate crashes where the Takata driver's-side airbag in 2010 Dodge Chargers exploded. That prompted NHTSA and manufacturer Stellantis to tell Charger owners to stop driving the cars until the airbags are removed and replaced.
Takata eventually paid $1 billion to settle a Justice Department probe into claims that it failed to warn consumers of the problem. The company later filed for bankruptcy and was sold.
Legal Rights for Car Owners, Lessors in California
California car owners and lessors have some important rights and protections under the state’s lemon law. You do not need to wait for a recall to get a defective vehicle fixed.
The lemon law, officially known as the Song Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, forces automakers to perform a full range of repairs on cars while they are under warranty. It also requires the companies to buy back (or replace, in some cases) vehicles that they are unable to or simply decline to fix.
There is no specific number of repair requests or attempts that must happen before the buyback or replace requirement kicks in. An experienced lemon law attorney can help you understand your rights and take action.
Talk with a California Lemon Law Attorney
If you have been stuck with a defective or malfunctioning vehicle, a California lemon law attorney at Bickel Sannipoli APC can help you fight back.