Mazda drivers in Minnesota may soon be receiving recall notices in the mail. The Japanese auto maker is one of 12 car manufacturers to recall vehicles equipped with airbags provided by the parts supplier Takata. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ordered the recall of all vehicles so equipped after a series of accidents claimed nine lives and left more than 100 people injured. The announcement marked the latest round in a series of recalls that has involved approximately 19 million vehicles.
Accident investigators working alongside car makers were able to determine that these injuries and deaths were caused by faulty airbag inflator housings that had ruptured during airbag deployment. This resulted in sharp shards of metal being thrown into vehicle passenger compartments and the faces, necks and torsos of drivers and front seat passengers. The fault has been blamed on poor quality control during the manufacturing process. A November 2015 settlement agreement between NHTSA and Takata requires the Japanese parts supplier to pay more than $70 million in fines.
Mazda says that over 370,000 vehicles manufactured between 2003 and 2008 will be involved. Dealers will replace the faulty inflators free of charge, and telephone numbers have been set up for consumers who have questions or concerns.
Modern automobiles often contain parts manufactured by dozens of suppliers located in various parts of the world, and the failure of these components can sometimes lead to catastrophic accidents. Attorneys with experience in auto part defect lawsuits may review accident reports to determine if mechanical failure could have been a factor, and they may arrange for experts to examine the vehicle wreckage if a faulty part seems to have played a role.