Thousands of car owners are ignoring safety recall notices and may be putting themselves and others at risk, forcing one automaker to take unprecedented action.
Certain Takata airbags are so dangerous, Honda is desperately trying to get them replaced, and since its efforts to get customers to take their cars into the dealers isn't working, Honda is going to them.
“There was a man standing on the stoop here with a shirt on that said Honda service technician,” said Christine Casey, the wife of an NBC employee.
Skeptical but curious she wanted to hear more
“He mentions my husband’s name and he mentions a Honda car that we have and asks if that information was correct,” Casey said.
It was, so the Honda tech asked if he could check the airbag in her Honda CRV.
“He went in and took this small piece and took it right off,” Casey said.
After inspecting the airbag, the tech told her it was safe and left.
Honda told News4 the airbag check was part of a quality control inspection.
Honda also told News4 about an even bigger initiative going on nationwide to track down more than 100,000 of the most dangerous airbag inflators out there -- the so-called alpha inflators only found in Honda vehicles.
But locating the cars isn't easy.
The Honda recall pit crew goes door-to-door on a mission to locate those customers who haven't responded to recall notices.
“These things have been recalled since 2008 and 2009, and never fixed,” Honda spokesperson Chris Martin said.
“In the end, what we are having to do is knock on the doors and talk to them face-to-face to really break through the clutter,” Martin said.
If they locate the cars, they replace the airbags immediately.
News4 learned this recall resistance goes beyond Takata airbags and Honda.
Automakers and the government struggle to convince drivers to get their cars' dangerous defects fixed.
“What the data tends to show is about 70 percent of the vehicles that are recalled get fixed,” former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Administrator David Friedman said. “What that means is about 30 percent don't. Those numbers are even higher for the folks who don't get them fixed for older vehicles.”
In those cases, paperwork might be missing or it could be another excuse, like being too busy.
“If you knew you could get your vehicle in and get out in a half an hour, they had the part and everything was simple, I think that would really help people comply easier,” said National Safety Council President and CEO Deborah Hersman.
She drove home the importance of safety recall repairs.
“None of us would send our loved ones, our children, our parents, our spouses out if we knew there was something wrong with the car,” she said. “That's in fact what we are doing.”
Honda isn't the only automaker using unconventional tactics to reach customers with open recalls. Fiat Chrysler is sharing its Takata airbag recall data with collision repair shops so they can alert drivers as well.
Reported by Susan Hogan, produced by Meredith Royster and edited by Perkins Broussard.