Minnesota motorists may be interested to learn that on June 2, a representative of the automotive parts manufacturer Takata acknowledged for the first time that the ammonium nitrate used in its airbag inflators appears to have been a factor in malfunctions that have injured more than 100 people and led to the death of at least half a dozen. A further 34 million vehicles have been recalled. The corporate executive was appearing before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee.
The company is switching to the use of guanidine nitrate that some of its competitors use. The problem with the ammonium nitrate is its vulnerability to moisture. Takata did not use a desiccant to absorb moisture in the older family of airbag inflators that it still manufactures although its newer ones do include a desiccant in the formula. In the older inflators, the moisture could lead to degradation, and that in turn could make the inflator canister rupture in a crash because the force causes the compound to catch fire.
Lawmakers questioned the representative on issues such as the cost of ammonium nitrate compared to compounds used by other manufacturers. He said that the failures generally only occurred after several years in a climate that was hot and humid.
An individual who is injured in a car accident due to auto part defects like the Takata airbags may want to contact an attorney. The injured victim may face a long period of recovery, and if the manufacturer appears to be at fault, it may be advisable to file a lawsuit. If successful, the damages that are awarded may cover expenses such as medical bills and lost wages due to an absence from work.
Source: Automotive News, "Takata plans to 'transition away' from ammonium nitrate in airbags," Ryan Beene, June 2, 2015