The biggest recall in automotive history is still making headlines, and putting a spotlight on the costs involved in a recall. The airbag recall that started in 2013 and affects cars as far back as 2002, has affected 10 different automakers: Honda, Toyota, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, BMW, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Saab and Nissan. An estimated 34 million cars are affected in the United States, and another 7 million worldwide. There have been 139 reported injuries, with some fatalities. The costs are mounting, resulting in a potential bankruptcy for Takata, and unknown costs for the vehicle manufacturers.
U.S. regulators and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found out environmental moisture and high temperatures are the root cause of the problem, resulting in airbags inflators to explode and cause serious injury and death. Therefore, NHTSA forced recalled Takata airbags in the high-humidity areas. Takata airbags contain the chemical ammonium nitrate, which will inflate air bags when a car crash occurs. However, the chemical can deteriorate over time when exposed to high heat and humidity, resulting in burning faster than designed, blowing apart the metal canister, spewing hot shrapnel into vehicles. The NHTSA found the root cause of the problem – Takata airbags use ammonium nitrate-based propellant without a chemical drying agent. Investigation also shows that Takata’s plant in Mexico allowed a defect rate that was six to eight times above acceptable limits, or roughly 60 to 80 defective parts for every one million airbag inflators shipped.
While the Takata recall is by far the largest in automotive history, other recent recalls are causing vehicle manufacturers to lose time and money:

Earlier this year Toyota Motor Corp. recalled about 2.87 million sport utility vehicles worldwide after rear seat belts separated in one fatal accident in Canada, and during a crash that injured a passenger in the U.S. Rear seat belts in the vehicles could be cut by metal seat-cushion frames in severe front crashes and fail to restrain passengers. The recall is due to Toyota’s vehicle design and not its suppliers. Dealers will install resin covers for rear metal seat frames at no cost to customers.

GM announced this year that they are voluntarily recalling almost a million 2014-15 model year Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 pickups in the United States because the flexible steel cable that connects the seat belt to the vehicle can fatigue and separate over time as a result of the driver repeatedly bending the cable when entering the seat. GM will also voluntarily recall and repair these models in other countries where they are sold, including Canada, Mexico, and several countries in Latin America and the Middle East. While there have been no reports of crashes, injuries or fatalities related to this issue, there is always a cost associated with a recall.

Last year Tesla announced it would recall 90,000 Model S cars because of a single report of a front seat belt not being properly connected. A customer sitting in the front passenger seat turned to speak with occupants in the rear and the seat belt became disconnected. The vehicle was not involved in a crash and there were no injuries.

In 2014, seat belt assemblies manufactured by Indiana Mills and Manufacturing, Inc. (IMMI) caused a recall involving many heavy duty trucks and buses. Their seat belt buckles did not satisfy the requirements of FMVSS 209. When the push button on the buckle is pressed to release the latch plate for egress, the latch plate can become partially engaged with the buckle. In the event of an accident or emergency, occupants may be unable to exit the vehicle immediately and an injury could occur.
GWR is proud to say that we have never been involved in a recall. We believe this is due to the design of our seat belts, the tolerance of our tooling, our automated machines with sensors and safety checks, our complete quality management processes, and our tireless focus on safety.
GWR Safety Systems’ mission is 100 percent safety because the value of life is crucial and customer’s safety means the world to us.

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