Ten auto manufacturers are currently participating in an air bag related recall that covers 17 million vehicles. All of the vehicles were manufactured with air bags built by the Takata corporation, which have been linked to at least six deaths and over 100 injuries to date, according to USA Today.
Despite investigations by both the air bag manufacturer and a team of independent engineers, however, the question of what exactly has caused the air bags to explode in some vehicles remains a mystery.
The Takata air bags have a defect in the inflation system, which has caused some air bags to inflate when the vehicle is not involved in an accident. In some cases, shrapnel or other small parts have been ejected as the air bag inflated, causing additional injuries.
Researchers have looked closely at the air bag inflation system. All air bags rely on a chemical inflator hooked to a sensor, which inflates the air bag when the vehicle signals that an accident is occurring. For many vehicles, the gas used to inflate the air bag is nitrogen. However, in the Takata air bags, the nitrogen was replaced by ammonium nitrate.
While the company says it chose ammonium nitrate because it is more cost-effective and less toxic, it is also true that ammonium nitrate can become unstable at temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. A car sitting in the summer sun can reach temperatures of 140 degrees.
Although research into the problem is ongoing, experienced Texas car accident lawyers strongly recommend that anyone who drives a recalled vehicle take it to a dealership to be fixed as soon as possible. Doing so may help prevent injuries and accidents.