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What you need to know about the Takata air bag recall

The largest recall related to problems with an automobile part is now on the books. The Takata Corp., maker of crash air bags for a slew of vehicles has issued the recall because of defects that can send shrapnel flying at vehicle passengers in an accident. Federal regulators say the number of affected vehicles stands at 34 million. How many of those may be in Texas isn't clear.

Here's what officials say we all need to know about this particular case of a hazardous defective product:

The problem is that the force of inflation in bags on both the driver and passenger sides of a vehicle equipped with these bags is so great that it can shatter a metal canister. Flying shards are said to be responsible for the deaths of at least six people and the injuring of more than 100 others around the world. Takata, carmakers and regulators aren't sure what causes the hyperinflation, but it's believed to be related to long exposures to high humidity.

At least eleven car manufacturers are affected. Officials say dozens of models dating back to 2001 will need to be checked and repaired. Carmakers with vehicles on the list are Honda, Toyota, BMW, Subaru, Chrysler, Saab, Ford, Nissan, General Motors, Mitsubishi and Mazda.

Obviously, this has a lot of people asking, how can I learn if my car is listed? If all goes as it's supposed to, you will receive a notice from your car manufacturer. You can check with your carmaker directly, too. If you can have your vehicle identification number, you can search the government's web page dedicated to the recall at www.safercar.gov/rs/takata/index.html. It might take some weeks to get all the affected vehicles listed, so check back if you don't see it at first.

The fix is expected to take up to two and a-half years to complete. That's because Takata has to make replacements for all the vehicles. Dealers are prepared to replace the bags at no cost as they become available. Since officials aren't sure exactly what the problem is, it's hard to know what the risk may be for those who have to wait for a repair.

One thing is sure. Anyone who suffers injury or loses a loved one in a car wreck and suspects that a faulty air bag may have been a factor should meet with an experienced attorney right away.

Source: MySanAntonio.com, "Facts about the Takata air bag recall," Dee-Ann Durbin, AP, May 21, 2015 

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