Eventually, the person activated the air bag inflater, which ruptured as the bag blew up, according to Honda. This allowed the airbag to deploy when triggered.
The company said photos from a local police report indicate the inflator exploded and shot out metal fragments, but it remains unclear if this shrapnel caused the injuries the man died from the next day. According to the automaker, the car's ignition switch was on, so the airbag would have been ready.
Japanese auto parts company Takata (TKTDF) is recalling an additional 2.7 million airbag inflators in the USA, after the company determined they could explode in the event of a crash despite the use of a chemical additive to make sure of their safety.
"It is hard to determine whether the cause of death in this incident was the inflator rupture, or an interaction of the hammer with the deploying air bag", the company said. Laboratory tests show they have as high as a 50 percent chance of blowing apart in a crash. Honda was Takata's biggest customer before the problems surfaced. Owners can go online and subscribe to Honda service manuals and find out proper procedures for many repairs.
Current and former owners of the specific Accord involved were mailed 12 safety notices over a seven-year period, but the company said "records indicate that the recall fix was never completed on this vehicle". Chris Martin, a Honda spokesman, said in an email the company learned of the incident through a legal claim in March. The owner had received 12 recall notices.
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Honda says its "records indicate that the recall fix was never completed on this vehicle".
About 46 million Takata air bags in 29 million cars have already been called back, with another 20 million to 25 million additional air bags set to be recalled with the next couple of years.
Last year, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) urged owners to stop driving the "unsafe" cars until they were fixed. (A NHTSA master list of model years is here as a quick reference; Honda's is here.) But don't just limit this practice to Hondas and Acuras. But Honda vastly expanded the recall to cover more than 2 million vehicles by 2011. The Takata airbag threat touches almost every major OEM's vehicles, from Ford to Ferrari, and it's really a good bit of customer service to run any VIN through the database to see what recalls are listed.
Honda also observed that it's "currently engaging the auto insurance industry to explore opportunities to raise awareness of the recall among shared customers".