UPDATED MAY 20, 2015:
The Takata air bag recalls affect a number of car companies so there isn't one automaker bearing exclusive responsibility. When global auto sales collapsed during the recession, many parts suppliers had to consolidate to stay afloat. As a result, we now have these larger parts suppliers like Takata who can directly impact the entire industry if something goes wrong.
Federal safety regulators are urging you to "act immediately on recall notices to replace defective Takata airbags.” The recalls are related to defective airbags that may be caused by extended exposure to consistently high humidity and temperatures.
*Check to see if your car is affected by the recall. You'll receive a notice from your carmaker if your vehicle is part of the recall. But if you want to check yourself, there's a VIN lookup at safercar.gov that will tell you if your car is affected. But given the size of today's recall, NHTSA chief Mark Rosekind has been quoted as saying it may take some days for all the affected VINs to be sorted out.
*If your car is subject to recall, see if the recall involves the driver or front passenger airbags. If it's just the passenger-side airbag, don't use that seat.
If it's the driver side, and you do not want to drive, you have more limited options:
*Drive less; Drive with extra caution. The defect doesn't make the airbag go off unexpectedly, but does so with greater explosive force, possibly making the inflator housing rupture.
*Ask for a loaner car – unlikely you'll get one to use in advance of your actual appointment, but you can try.
*Rent a car. Toyota's recall info says dealers will "provide a rental car" until the remedy can be performed. On your dime's or the dealers? As I read it, you are likely paying for it, at least initially
*Prepare to wait for your carmaker to make the fix. Cars in regions of high humidity are being addressed first, because the ruptures appear to be related to high humidity. Wait times for replacement are months long at this point, but may shorten as Takata ramps up its production of replacement parts.
Used car buyers: Run the VIN to see if the car is under recall before you buy--both from private parties and dealerships.
How many vehicles are being recalled?
Currently over thirty four million vehicles are being recalled.
Is my vehicle included in the recalls?
Affected vehicles include models from Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Chrysler, Ford, and some GM cars.
For a full and updated list, click here.
What steps should I take?
It’s recommended that you check your car manufacturer’s website to search by VIN, or call their customer care line for additional information. You should also be notified by the manufacturer if your car is included in a recall. You would then need to contact a local dealer’s service department and schedule an appointment for the necessary repairs.
You can find a local dealer by clicking here.
For manufacturers' contact information, please click here.
If you still have questions, feel free to contact our Live Help team. We are available for all of your car shopping questions seven days a week from 8 AM to 5 PM (Pacific). To learn more, please visit https://help.edmunds.com/home.