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Toyota Becomes Latest Automaker To Issue Recalls Over Faulty Airbags

Parts of pyro-electric airbag initiators lie in a production line at the international automotive supplier Takata Ignition Systems GmbH in Schoenebeck, Germany, Thursday, April 17. (AP)

A massive auto recall on defective airbags was given fresh urgency on Monday, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration encouraged the owners of nearly 5 million cars to get them fixed "immediately." Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton told our Newscast unit some deaths have been tied to the defect:

"The airbags are made by Japanese supplier Takata. The bags have faulty inflators than can rupture and send metal fragments flying out. At least four people have died in accidents related to the defect. A hot climate appears to trigger the airbag failures, so the recalls are considered especially urgent for people living in Florida, Hawaii, and U.S. territories."

BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota and Mitsubishi all have vehicles that may have the faulty airbags. Honda has the most cars affected.

Toyota Motor Corp issued the latest recall on Monday, with new notices for 20,000 vehicles. The automaker also re-notified the owners of 247,000 cars SUVs and pickup trucks over the airbag concerns.

USA Today says the airbag issue has been causing recalls for years:

"The latest action is part of 16 million vehicles recalled since 2008 by all automakers worldwide due to Takata-supplied airbags. The defective bags can inflate improperly and blast what amounts to shrapnel through the cover and into the vehicle's occupants."

Toyota says some of the company's vehicles had already been recalled, and that this new notification "intensifies Toyota's efforts to reach customers and remedy previously recalled vehicles, and a small number of newly included vehicles."

From the company's press release:

"... in cooperation with NHTSA and Takata to investigate incidents of ruptured inflators, Toyota recovered inflators from recalled vehicles from areas in South Florida for evaluation by Takata.

"Takata provided data to Toyota indicating that a number of the returned inflators performed improperly during component testing. The cause of the potential for ruptured inflators and the influence of high absolute humidity are under investigation. To date, Toyota has received no reports of injuries or fatalities related to this condition."

The NHTSA gives instructions on how car owners can tell if their vehicle is affected at this website.

The NHTSA has also published a list of vehicles potentially affected.

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