The Takata airbag recall never seems to end and just two days ago the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it was “deeply concerned” that airbags on the 2006 Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series pickups were not being replaced fast enough.
As part of the announcement, the agency noted the vehicles are “under a ‘do not drive’ warning and the airbags must be replaced immediately.” The NHTSA went on to plea for owners to have their airbags replaced for their own safety and the well-being of their loved ones.
Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy as Forbes recently pointed out. The publication notes the case of one particular Ford Mustang owner whose driver’s side airbag was recalled in May of 2016 but the dealer didn’t have the necessary replacement parts to fix it. Two months later, the passenger side airbag was recalled and, once again, the company didn’t have the parts.
Since the airbags have already caused a number of fatalities, Ford eventually sent the owner a letter saying not to let anyone sit in the passenger seat until the car was fixed. That’s obviously a major inconvenience especially when you’re actively trying to get the car repaired but can’t.
The dealer promised the owner a loaner vehicle but it never materialized despite repeated calls and letters. As the owner told Forbes, “Ford refuses to disconnect the airbags, supply customers with rental cars or even take responsibility for the defect.” He says he no longer drives the Mustang even though he’s already paid more than $10,000 on the car’s loan.
The problem isn’t unique to Ford as the report notes there are still approximately 54 million vehicles in America with defective airbags.
Many automakers don’t have a clear loaner policy
In a letter to 17 major automakers regarding the recall, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Edward Markey said “We have heard from countless constituents expressing their unease at having no choice but to drive a car with a potential time bomb to get to school or work.” The letter went on to say many people are confused if they are entitled to a loaner vehicle or rental car while waiting for replacement parts.
All the automaker responded and the senators noted BMW, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Honda, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota are doing right by owners. However, the senators slammed the policies of Ferrari, Ford, GM, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Tesla and Volkswagen. The report stated these automakers have “not taken steps to protect consumers” and are putting them at “risk of death or horrific injuries.”
The problem likely won’t be going away anytime soon as Takata had previously estimated there wouldn’t be enough replacements parts to fix all of the affected vehicles until 2020. This puts automakers in a tough spot as they’re facing issues caused by a supplier that was eventually forced into bankruptcy.