Thousands of cars are equipped with defective airbags on Utah roads as automakers issue ‘Do Not Drive’ warnings


SALT LAKE CITY – Over the past decade, automakers have recalled more than 67 million Takata airbags due to their potential to explode if they deploy in a crash, shooting out sharp metal fragments.

The defective airbags have so far been linked to 27 deaths in the US and injured more than 400 drivers and passengers. And as terrible as that is, experts say the longer airbags are allowed to remain unsecured in our cars, the more likely they are to explode.

This past week, Nissan issued a ‘do not drive’ order for 84,000 older cars with non-fixed Takata airbags. Toyota, Ford, BMW, Mazda and Honda have all issued similar warnings that their cars cannot be driven safely until the airbags are replaced.

“Park the car,” says Carfax editor-in-chief Patrick Olsen about the “do not drive” warnings. “’We (car manufacturers) will send a tow truck for you. We’ll take it, get it fixed and bring it back to you.’”

Olsen said prolonged exposure of the air bag propellant to high heat and humidity only increases the chance of the air bag exploding.

“I know Salt Lake City – a lot of heat. And so every summer more and more problems arise in that airbag,” he said.

According to figures shared by Carfax with KSL researchers, 70,000 cars and trucks on Utah roads currently have non-restrained Takata airbags. Sixty-two thousand of those are located in the Salt Lake area.

Olsen says supply chain issues that plagued airbags no longer exist.

“There was definitely a shortage of replacement recalls in 2014, when the recalls started and, frankly, lasted several years,” Olsen said. “Now, however, there is no shortage of replacement airbags.”

If you’re not sure if you have a recalled airbag in your car, you can easily check. Find your car’s VIN on the Carfax website or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. You will have the answer within seconds.

Olsen said replacing an airbag generally only takes a few hours, and it will cost you absolutely nothing. Make an appointment in advance with the manufacturer’s dealer to ensure that an airbag is available for your model. Even if you are not the original owner of the car, they should repair it.