Acura, a luxury brand of parent company Honda, was first introduced to the U.S. market in 1986. It is known for its high level features and performance. In recent years, Acura has joined most other automotive manufacturers in a broad recall of vehicles due to risks of failure of Takata airbags. Takata airbags are used by most manufacturers of cars, trucks and motorcycles.
Airbags have definitely saved many lives, but the Takata airbags have been found to have serious defects that could harm owners of millions of vehicles. This series of recalls is the largest in automotive history, affecting people in all parts of the globe. Airbags have been standard equipment on all vehicles manufactured and sold in the United States since 1998. Problems with airbag failures began to be noticed several years later, affecting millions of vehicles in model years 2001 to present day.
Acura Airbag Recall
Efforts to contact owners of affected Acura vehicles extends beyond just mail notification; the company makes phone calls and other efforts to reach hard-to-reach owners so they understand the importance of bringing their vehicles in for free airbag replacement. Free alternative transportation is also available while repairs are being made to those vehicles.
These Acura airbag recalls are a response to industry and government concerns and demands following accidents and deaths due to failure of Takata airbags. Over 100 million vehicles have been recalled globally to address this serious problem. Defective parts have caused a variety of accidents, including some that resulted in deaths.
Over 300 accidents resulted in serious injuries to vehicle occupants and drivers. A recent example from 2015 occurred when a man in South Carolina died from an airbag failure after his truck stuck a cow. The inflator canister shattered during deployment of the airbag, sending metal shards into the vehicle and striking him in the neck.
Airbag Deployment Failures
Many of the serious accidents and deaths related to Takata airbag deployment failures are caused by defective inflators. Some have cracks in the container that can allow the inflator to fracture. The inflator is housed inside the airbag, along with a metal wire casing. Inside the inflator are two chemicals, sodium azide and potassium nitrate. When a sensor activates the airbag unit, these chemicals are combined and create hot hydrogen gas that expands the airbag at tremendous speed, as much as 100 mph.
Airbag deployment failures can occur when the chemical propellants are defective, mix prematurely or cause such a forceful explosion that it shatters the inflator device. This will send sharp metal fragments through the airbag and into the vehicle. The fragments act like shrapnel, penetrating skin easily and if these fragment hit the jugular vein or ceratoid arteries in the neck, it has caused death.
Other situations that have resulted in passenger or driver injuries include issues with side door airbags and knee airbags. Some airbags have exploded when there has not been a collision. Defects in the sensor system or the chemical mix can cause this problem. It also has happened when a passenger leaned too hard on the side door panel, or if there was some mild brushing or pressure on the outside of the door. If the driver airbag expands without cause, it can also harm the driver or cause an accident due to the surprise effect.
There appears to be a relationship between the age of an airbag and increased risk of failure, especially in climates that are hot and humid. Moisture affects the propellant chemicals and can cause them to explode the airbag prematurely or with too much power. There are three zones of concern, based on climate factors and age of airbags. Most problems occur between 6 and 20 years of age for the airbags.
Airbag Failures Injuries
Typical injuries that happen when there are airbag failure include burns, bruises, cuts and harm to eyes, ears, the chest region and in the most serious cases, death. When an airbag deploys without reason, when there has been no collision, the surprise and presence of the airbag itself may cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle. If an airbag does not deploy when there has been an impact, there will be no safety cushion in place to help vehicle occupants.
Common airbag deployment injuries include:
Head, Facial & Chest Injuries
– An explosive expansion of the airbag can harm these areas of the body just from contact with the airbag. If the airbag vent system does not allow some gas to escape, the airbag is extremely hard and could cause impact injury. Recommendations include sitting at least 10 inches away from airbags. Exploding airbag inflators can send out metal parts that cut like shrapnel, even causing death. Chest injuries may include fractured ribs or sternum. Some cardiac injuries may not be evident until examination at the hospital.
Eyes, Ears, Lungs
– Forceful contact with a hard or exploding airbag can be damaging. Chemicals can cause burns, the loud noise of an expanding airbag can harm the eardrum, and inhaling chemicals may harm lungs or cause reactions like asthma to occur.
Cuts, Puncture Wounds
– If the inflator explodes and metal fragments are released at speeds up to 100 mph, lacerations and serious wounds may result.
– When an airbag inflator has ruptured, cuts to the jugular vein and carotid arteries may result in death.
Recalls have been issued for the following Acura model vehicles; future recalls will be issued whenever new airbag defects are found.
- 2002-2003 Acura 3.2CL
- 2002-2003 Acura 3.2TL
- 2013-2016 Acura ILX
- 2013-2014 Acura ILX Hybrid
- 2003-2006 Acura MDX
- 2007-2016 Acura RDX
- 2005-2012 Acura RL
- 2009-2011 Acura TSX
- 2011 Acura TSX Sportswagon
- 2009-2014 Acura TL
- 2010-2013 Acura ZDX
Honda has the recall list on their website. You can enter your VIN Number to see if your vehicle is one that has a recall issued. They also provide a description of the airbag problem and what you should do next to get it fixed. NHTSA has said that certain Hondas from model years 2001-2003 are most likely to have a risk of ruptures during deployment of the airbag. Another high risk factor is if your vehicle was first sold in or registered in certain high humidity, high temperature geographical regions, including Florida and the Gulf Coast states and other areas that have similar climates.
If your vehicle is in a high risk area, Honda encourages you to take immediate action to get airbag replacement. In order to better deal with these higher numbers of affected vehicles, Honda has allocated Acura airbag replacement parts there first. They will continue to send out notices to other areas as parts become available.
VIN Number Verification also is available at these websites:
Airbag Recall Acura Vehicles
Acura has issued an airbag recall for some of the following models in the years 2003-2016: 3.2CL, ILX, ILX Hybrid, MDX, RDX, RL, TL, ZDX.