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Old 4th April 2024, 20:14   #1
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Takata Airbag issue | What makes it deadly?

Takata Airbag issue | What makes it deadly?



Takata Airbag issue | What makes it deadly?-screenshot-20240404-203127.png
Tata Safari crash test, 2023


Introduction

When we think about car safety, airbags are often the first thing that comes to mind. Airbags are highly effective and now mandatory in most vehicles. However, the Takata Airbag issue has been a serious concern in the automotive industry, raising questions about the safety of these life-saving devices.

Takata, once the world's largest airbag manufacturer, became infamous for producing faulty airbags that posed serious risks to drivers and passengers. Major car manufacturers like Honda and Toyota installed Takata Airbags in their vehicles, leading to widespread recalls and free replacements for affected vehicles.


Before we talk about Takata, let's learn how airbags work in a crash:

Takata Airbag issue | What makes it deadly?-screenshot-20240404-203300.png
Skoda Slavia crash test, 2023

- In a crash, your head is dangerously close to the steering wheel or dashboard. That's where airbags come in. They need to inflate rapidly, within milliseconds, to cushion your head before it hits hard surfaces.

Takata Airbag issue | What makes it deadly?-screenshot-20240404-202931.png
Image source: Biturbo Media

- When a car collides, it decelerates abruptly, coming to a sudden stop. This triggers the accelerometer, a device that senses this rapid deceleration. The accelerometer sends signals to the airbag control unit (ACU). If the ACU detects a high-intensity crash, it activates the airbag inflator.

- Once the signal is received, a chemical reaction is set off in the inflator. This reaction releases gas quickly, creating pressure that inflates the airbag, providing a cushioning barrier between you and potential injury.

Takata Airbag issue | What makes it deadly?-screenshot-20240404-203733.png

The problem with Takata Airbags (2001) emerged from the use of ammonium nitrate, an explosive compound, instead of the safer Tetrazole chemical. This cost-cutting measure led to airbags malfunctioning, sometimes even deploying randomly without a crash, causing serious injuries or fatalities. Metal parts called shrapnel were known to explode from these airbags during accidents, causing severe injuries.

Takata Airbag issue | What makes it deadly?-screenshot-20240404-204235.png
Shrapnel from Takata Airbags

The recalls, initiated in 2008 and still ongoing in 2024, have affected millions of vehicles worldwide. Honda alone had to recall 22 million cars. The replacements are offered free of cost, but the impact on Takata was severe, leading to bankruptcy and closure in 2018.

Takata Airbag issue | What makes it deadly?-screenshot-20240404-212639.png

The safety authorities have advised car owners not to drive their vehicles until the faulty airbags are replaced. The recalls continue to this day, with affected car owners urged to check the NHTSA website for information. In response to the Takata Airbag issue, car manufacturers like Skoda have created separate portals for Takata recall checks, ensuring the safety of their customers.


Credits: Biturbo Media
Los Angeles Times
Global NCAP

Last edited by MotorDev : 4th April 2024 at 23:26.
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Old 5th April 2024, 05:52   #2
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Re: Takata Airbag issue | What makes it deadly?

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 5th April 2024, 08:19   #3
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Re: Takata Airbag issue | What makes it deadly?

As this is a major safety issue, readers would do well to go through the various threads on Takata airbags including some which provide VIN numbers of cars in India that have a recall for defective airbags:

https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/road-...ag-crisis.html (60 Million Car Bombs: Inside Takataís Airbag Crisis)

https://www.team-bhp.com/news/skoda-...ta-airbags?amp

https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/india...t-drivers.html (Takata airbag recall - Why is Toyota replacing just the passenger-side airbag, and not the driver's?)

https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/india...inflators.html (Honda cars recalled to replace Takata airbag inflators)

https://www.team-bhp.com/tags/takata

https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/inter...-repaired.html (Faulty Airbags: Toyota warns drivers of 50000 cars to stop driving immediately and get cars repaired)

https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/road-...mpacted-2.html (Quality issue with Takata airbags. Honda, Toyota, Nissan, GM, BMW, Subaru impacted)

https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/india...inflators.html (Honda Accord recalled over faulty Takata airbag inflators)

https://www.team-bhp.com/news/car-ma...rbag-issue?amp

https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/road-...h-airbags.html (Another massive Takata recall looms for large batch of airbags)

Last edited by AMG Power : 5th April 2024 at 08:38.
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Old 5th April 2024, 17:18   #4
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Re: Takata Airbag issue | What makes it deadly?

A few questions that come to my mind:
1. How do we find out about our vehicle being part of the recall, say if we own a Toyota?
2. This sounds like one of the biggest scams ever, perhaps even bigger than the Boeing scam, though the Boieng scam surely caused more deaths. What kind of jail time were the perpetrators given considering the severity of the crime?
3. Once Takata went bankrupt, did the car manufacturers absorb the cost? What's to say that the new parts are effective?
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Old 5th April 2024, 19:25   #5
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Re: Takata Airbag issue | What makes it deadly?

Takata was closed down in 2018. And the Slavia was launched in 2022. So how does those notorious airbags find their way in Slavia? Was it that the company was using airbags from their global parts inventory, and then suddenly realised that they were made by Takata ? Doesn't something smell fishy here ? Skoda should provide an explanation for this.
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Old 5th April 2024, 20:12   #6
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Re: Takata Airbag issue | What makes it deadly?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mitadru View Post
How do those notorious airbags find their way in Slavia?
Hi, you've misunderstood. I used Slavia and Safari pictures to demonstrate how airbags work and how close passengers are to hard surfaces like the dashboard during a crash. To clarify, neither Slavia nor any other current car uses Takata airbags.

Quote:
Originally Posted by redohabitat View Post
A few questions that come to my mind:
1. How do we find out about our vehicle being part of the recall, say if we own a Toyota?
2. This sounds like one of the biggest scams ever, perhaps even bigger than the Boeing scam, though the Boieng scam surely caused more deaths. What kind of jail time were the perpetrators given considering the severity of the crime?
3. Once Takata went bankrupt, did the car manufacturers absorb the cost? What's to say that the new parts are effective?
Question 1: Simply visit the NHTSA website or search "Takata recall India" on Google for your car brand (eg: Toyota), enter your car's model and year, and it will show if your car is affected.

Question 2: Takata was fined $1 billion.

Question 3: After its bankruptcy, Takata was acquired by Key Safety Systems, who likely financed the replacements. Also, the new airbags, which replaced the older ones, used safer compounds such as sodium azide.

Last edited by MotorDev : 5th April 2024 at 20:25.
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Old 5th April 2024, 21:02   #7
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Re: Takata Airbag issue | What makes it deadly?

Those with Honda cars can use this website to check for recalls. Have VIN number handy.

https://www.hondacarindia.com/honda-...nt-information

"It is recalling 2,099 units of City sedan manufactured between 2007- 2013, 2,577 units of CR-V produced between 2003-2008 and in 2011 and 350 units of Accord manufactured in 2003, Honda said. It is also recalling 52 units of Civic sedan manufactured between 2006-2008 and 10 units of Jazz manufactured between 2009-2012."

http://www.business-standard.com/amp...2900951_1.html
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Old 6th April 2024, 15:59   #8
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Re: Takata Airbag issue | What makes it deadly?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MotorDev View Post
Hi, you've misunderstood. I used Slavia and Safari pictures to demonstrate how airbags work and how close passengers are to hard surfaces like the dashboard during a crash. To clarify, neither Slavia nor any other current car uses Takata airbags.
But then what was this airbags recall on Slavia for ? I am attaching a screenshot of the post , which you only had made.
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Old 6th April 2024, 16:03   #9
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Re: Takata Airbag issue | What makes it deadly?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mitadru View Post
But then what was the recall for Slavia? I am attaching a screenshot of the post, which you only had made.
No, this isn't about Takata. This recall is about the curtain airbags and how quickly they open during a crash. It's not anything major.
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Old 6th April 2024, 17:56   #10
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Re: Takata Airbag issue | What makes it deadly?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MotorDev View Post
[The problem with Takata Airbags (2001)[/b] emerged from the use of ammonium nitrate, an explosive compound, instead of the safer Tetrazole chemical. This cost-cutting measure led to airbags malfunctioning, sometimes even deploying randomly without a crash, causing serious injuries or fatalities. Metal parts called shrapnel were known to explode from these airbags during accidents, causing severe injuries.
Thanks for this write up. I still donít understand why this happened. Just because the new compound is cheaper, is not an explanation as to what the technical/chemical issue is.

Why did the other compound led to malfunctioning?
Why would a different compound lead to random deployments?
Where do the metalparts/shrapnell come for and has it anything to do with the new compound?

Does anybody have a more detailed insight into this problem?

Jeroen
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Old 6th April 2024, 18:16   #11
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Re: Takata Airbag issue | What makes it deadly?

Noone ever knew about airbag manufacturers until 2008, when recalls by carmakers for faulty and malfunctioning Takata airbags commenced. Takata it appeared had almost no competitor for the mass produced car segment. That an airbag manufacturer selling millions can blatantly use of ammonium nitrate, the explosive compound, in lieu of the safer Tetrazole that was a bit higher priced even in the consumer centric Western democracies is appalling. They must have also done the ammonium nitrate tricks with Indian customers. And here the consumer laws can still be a subject matter of debate.

Starting in the mid-1990s, the automotive airbag industry began to use “tetrazole” in place of sodium azide, but tetrazole, while less toxic than sodium azide, was significantly more expensive to use.

Quote:
Alby Berman, a spokesman for Takata, said the switch to an ammonium-nitrate-based propellant was not driven by cost considerations. Instead, the company’s engineers determined that the compound produced gas more efficiently with fewer emissions.

“This breakthrough allowed us to make the smallest, lightest inflaters available, as well as significantly improve manufacturing safety,” Mr.Berman said.

“It was a question that came up: Ammonium nitrate propellant, won’t that blow up?” said Michael Britton, a chemical engineer who worked with Mr. Lillie at the Moses Lake plant. “The answer was, not if it stays in the right phase.”
And look at Takata's justification above for the changeover.

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/20/b...of-crisis.html

And those deadly metal pieces ! Takata is obviously the wolf with a black sheep's clothing on the prowl.

Last edited by anjan_c2007 : 6th April 2024 at 18:29.
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Old 6th April 2024, 18:52   #12
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Re: Takata Airbag issue | What makes it deadly?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
I still don’t understand why this happened. Just because the new compound is cheaper, is not an explanation as to what the technical/chemical issue is.

Why did the other compound lead to malfunctioning?
Why would a different compound lead to random deployments?
Where do the metal parts/shrapnel come from and has it anything to do with the new compound?

Jeroen
- Questions 1 and 2: Ammonium nitrate, the compound used in Takata airbags, is highly explosive and reacts strongly in both high and low temperatures, which are typical conditions for cars to operate in. Instead of inflating the airbag, it causes it to explode. Over time, ammonium nitrate also absorbs moisture, leading to airbag malfunctions.

- Question 3: Airbags contain a metal canister that holds the chemicals/compounds. In Takata's case, this canister contained ammonium nitrate. When the ammonium nitrate reacted and exploded, the metal canister shattered into small pieces called shrapnel. Metal canisters are present in all airbags, and ammonium nitrate's reactivity caused severe injuries.

Last edited by MotorDev : 6th April 2024 at 18:54.
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Old 6th April 2024, 22:02   #13
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Re: Takata Airbag issue | What makes it deadly?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MotorDev View Post
- Questions 1 and 2: Ammonium nitrate, the compound used in Takata airbags, is highly explosive and reacts strongly in both high and low temperatures, which are typical conditions for cars to operate in. Instead of inflating the airbag, it causes it to explode. Over time, ammonium nitrate also absorbs moisture, leading to airbag malfunctions.

- Question 3: Airbags contain a metal canister that holds the chemicals/compounds. In Takata's case, this canister contained ammonium nitrate. When the ammonium nitrate reacted and exploded, the metal canister shattered into small pieces called shrapnel. Metal canisters are present in all airbags, and ammonium nitrate's reactivity caused severe injuries.
I happen to know a few things about Ammonium nitrate and I can tell you it is totally impossible Takata used 100% Ammonium Nitrate.

It also doesnít explain why some of these bags inflated or exploded randomly and, letís face it, by far most of them did not.

The conditions under which pure Ammonium nitrate becomes volatile attracts moisture are well known. Pure ammonium nitrate does not burn, but as a strong oxidizer, it supports and accelerates the combustion of organic (and some inorganic) material.

That is why I want to understand what they really did. Your answers is what goes around the internet, but it simply isnít the full story I believe.

So they probably used Ammonium nitrate in combination with various other ingredients. Irrespective, it does not explain random occurrences.

Jeroen
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Old 8th April 2024, 10:01   #14
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Re: Takata Airbag issue | What makes it deadly?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
I still donít understand why this happened. Just because the new compound is cheaper, is not an explanation as to what the technical/chemical issue is.

Why did the other compound led to malfunctioning?
Why would a different compound lead to random deployments?

Does anybody have a more detailed insight into this problem?

Jeroen
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post

That is why I want to understand what they really did.
Phase stabilized Ammonium Nitrate (PSAN) oxidizer in inflators that degrade is;

(A) not sufficiently protected by the inflator seals, allowing moisture to migrate into the inflator air space, and then be adsorbed onto PSAN particles from the humid air space.

(B) Over time, many temperature cycles occur, causing changes to PSAN particles resulting in cumulative structural damage in the main propellant.

(C) During combustion, the damaged propellant transitions from surface burning to burning en masse, causing a rapid pressure rise (excursion) inside the inflator, which in turn, causes the steel housing to fail violently, propelling metal fragments.

After rigrous testing and scientefic analysis, following were concluded;

(a) Affected inflators are inadequately sealed for protection of the moisture sensitive PSAN-based main propellant;
(b) Allowing moist air to enter the inflator air space;
(c) Causing damage to the physical structure of the main propellant consisting of the formation of pores/channels.
(d) Over the course of years, the extent of damage progresses by a slow process driven by daily temperature fluctuations.
(e) Then, during combustion, the extremely hot gas enters the pores/channels;
(f) Which causes a transition from layer-by-layer burning to burning en masse that over-pressurizes the steel shell to cause catastrophic failure (rupture) with fragmentation hazard to vehicle occupants.

Subsequent root causes -

1) Marginal seal design permits moist air intrusion
2) Propellant exposed to moist air and temperature cycling degrades physically over time
3) Over-Pressurization during air bag deployment.

Final Root cause from the report,

Quote:
The rupturing Takata inflators is moisture damaged main propellant which, over the course of time, transitions to burning en masse during deployment. The investigations have provided additional insight regarding the extent to which propellant damage is dependent on temperature cycling, which feeds both moist air movement into the inflator and the propellant physical damage due to pore formation. The booster propellant forestalls damage by acting as a desiccant, the effectiveness of which varies with climate. Nevertheless, the main propellant exposed to moisture will eventually degrade by temperature cycling to the point of risking inflator rupture at an age ranging from six years in regions which feature high humidity and high solar load to twenty-five years for colder regions where humidity is lower and temperature coupled to solar load do not interfere with booster propellant acting as a desiccant to protect the main propellant.
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