The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends drivers keep Takata airbags connected, despite growing concerns of the airbag inflator exploding on impact and shooting metal fragments.
The largest and most complex safety recall in US history -— as dubbed by NHTSA -— got even more complex on April 7 when Honda reported the death of a 17-year-old girl from Texas. It marked the 10th Takata-related death in the country.
Fourteen different automakers now have to issue replacement parts for more than 34 million vehicles nationwide. One of those vehicles is Sal Cavallaro’s Shelby GT-500.
Cavallaro has owned Mustangs for 50 years. His cars have always been part of the family, a passion he hopes to pass on to his grandchildren.
“They love to get in the back seat. When they’re out of school, we go up to Rocky Hill and take the ferry across into Glastonbury and [we] drive around in the countryside,” said Cavallaro. “They love it.”
When Cavallaro got a recall letter from Ford last July confirming his faulty airbag, he wanted to take care of it as soon as possible.
“It’s a concern,” said Cavallaro. “It should be addressed by Ford. Let us know.”
He says Ford has not updated him since the July recall letter, and he hasn’t found a dealership with the available parts.
Cavallaro wonders if he should take it into his own hands.
“If there [are] people getting killed because the airbag deploys and this shrapnel that comes out of it, maybe it’s safer to have that disconnected,” said Cavallaro.
However, a NHTSA representative strongly advised against Sal’s theory. They urge drivers not to disable their airbags. The Takata numbers indicate your airbag is far more likely to protect you than it is to rupture.
A Ford spokesman echoed NHTSA’s statement and addressed Sal’s concerns.
He told us the company is working with suppliers to expedite the process while, “following NHTSA’s coordinated remedy order, which starts with older vehicles in the high heat and humidity areas.”
Eight of the 10 US deaths happened in the south or south west regions. Regulators say they want to fix as many cars down there as possible before continuing their efforts up to states like Connecticut.
If you do get a notice indicating your parts are available, make sure you take care of that as soon as possible.
In the meantime, NHTSA officials say you should continue to drive your vehicles.