The largest automotive recall in U.S. history has some drivers waiting years for replacements.
The Takata airbag recall involves 19 automakers and 46 million airbag inflators, and 16 million airbags still need to be replaced.
A local couple said they’ve been waiting almost two years for their replacement.
“They can't fix it?” Lynda Williams said. “I've got to ride in the backseat? That is ridiculous.”
Lynda and Carl Williams’ 2008 Ford Fusion was recalled in June 2016, but parts to replace the defective parts are unavailable.
The recall notice came with a warning not to sit in the front passenger seat because the airbag inflator could rupture causing injuries or death.
“So knowing that, I said, 'Well, I guess somebody's going to have to ride in the back seat,’" Carl Williams said.
Ford said the "unprecedented volume and scope" of the Takata recalls created "unique replacement parts challenges" for all manufacturers and suppliers. It could be "months or even years" before parts will be available for certain vehicles.
Fourteen manufacturers still have not replaced all of the recalled airbags.
Lynda and Carl Williams said Ford did not offer them a loaner.
“If you don't have the parts, despite it being inexcusable, give your customer a rental car, period,” said David Friedman of Consumers Union.
Friedman, a former director of the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration said automakers and NHTSA have got to make it right.
“If there are car companies out there that are claiming they have the parts available, and they don’t, NHTSA should open up an investigation and should consider whether or not they should fine these companies to ensure that they are doing right by their customers,” he said.
In a statement, NHTSA said it is the most complex automotive recall in history and it needs to make sure parts are available to the highest risk vehicles first.
As for Lynda and Carl Williams, NHTSA said it initially "ordered Ford to have repair parts available by Sept. 30, 2017," but Ford asked for two extensions — the latest now delaying a fix for the 2008 Fusions until July.
“If that's the case, they should put me in something that's safe for me and my wife and anyone else who rides with us,” Carl Williams said. "They need to stand behind the product."
Ford said it may be able to provide loaner vehicles in certain circumstances.
Some vehicles are under a "don't drive" order and car manufacturers are providing loaners.
And NHTSA says don't get the airbag disabled. Just because your car is recalled doesn't mean the airbag is defective.
Complete statement from NHTSA:
As you know, the Takata air bag recalls are the largest and most complex automotive recalls in U.S. automotive history. To ensure that parts are available to the highest risk vehicles first, affected vehicles are prioritized under NHTSA’s a coordinated remedy order. Some of these inflators pose an immediate safety risk and must be replaced now, while others don’t need to be replaced now but do need to be replaced in the future. Every defective air bag inflator must be replaced, and inflators that are more dangerous to the public are being fixed first. To understand the timeline of events related that led to this recall, click here.
The 2008 Ford Fusion you mentioned is included in the Takata air bag recalls and prioritized in NTHSA’s Third Amendment to the Coordinated Remedy Order, issued in December 2016. In that amendment, NHTSA ordered Ford to have repair parts available by September 30, 2017. However, due to delays in Ford’s repair part redesign and development process Ford requested, and was granted, an extension to February 28, 2018. F. Then, in February 2018, Ford requested an additional extension for certain vehicles including a request for an extension until July 20, 2018 for the 2008 Ford Fusion in Virginia. The table showing the requested extension date is located on the last page of the document (in Appendix B). While the request is pending, Ford is not required to have the parts available. The agency is working to issue a decision on the extension request as soon as possible.
Owners of affected vehicles first received an interim notification letter to let them know their vehicle was under recall but parts were not yet available. Ford will send another notification letter when parts are available.
Complete statement from Ford:
The unprecedented volume and scope of the industrywide Takata airbag inflator recalls have created unique replacement parts challenges for all vehicle manufacturers and global parts suppliers. At NHTSA’s request, Ford issued safety recalls for vehicles with certain Takata inflators even though replacement inflators with a different propellant would not be available for months or even years; in the meantime, new inflators are being redesigned and manufactured.
Ford is currently engaged in the complex and lengthy process of developing replacement nonammonium nitrate-based airbag inflators from alternative suppliers. Airbag inflators are highly engineered and unique to each model and model year. In addition to the lengthy design and revalidation process, the scarcity of global production capacity from inflator suppliers is contributing to a delay in global replacement parts availability.
Ford and our dealers are committed to providing excellent customer service and may be able to provide loaner vehicles in certain circumstances. To determine if you qualify, please contact the Ford Customer Relationship Center in the U.S. at 866.436.7332 and in Canada at 800.565.3673.
Ford advised some customers who own certain vehicles with Takata passenger inflators of ways to mitigate the safety risk, and not sitting in the passenger seat is one way to do so, which is consistent with advice that NHTSA and other manufacturers have provided.
Reported by Susan Hogan, produced by Meredith Royster, and edited by Lance Ing.