Florida Heat Heightens Air-Bag Explosion Risk

Officials say high temperatures and humidity make recalled Takata inflators an even dicier proposition for more than 41,500 motorists in the state.

Tech Deja Vu

Tens of thousands of motorists across Florida are being urged to stop ignoring recall notices involving Takata airbag inflators linked to the deaths of 13 Americans, as the state's heat and humidity ups the odds of an explosion.

The Florida Department of Highway and Motor Vehicles on Tuesday issued a statement saying it was joining forces with Nissan to reach out to Floridians owning certain 2001-2006 model year Nissan and Infiniti vehicles to "immediately respond to an urgent recall notice."

The state agency sent letters at the end of October to more than 41,500 motorists, said spokesperson Alexis Bakofsky.

The state agency and manufacturers have sent notices to affected owners of highest risk vehicles who have not yet responded to a nationwide recall, asking that they contact an authorized deal for a free repair of the potentially deadly airbag inflators made by Takata, said the DHSMV, adding, "These notices should not be ignored."

“It is critical that Florida motorists affected by this recall take action,” Terry Rhodes, executive director of the Florida DHSMV, said in the statement. “Florida’s hot temperatures and humid climate increase the chances that these airbag inflators will explode. Ignoring this important notice could mean the difference between life and death for you and your passengers.”

The following model year vehicles could be equipped with recalled airbags, and are the subject of the DHSMV and Nissan/Infiniti call to action:

INFINITI

  • FX35/FX45, 2003-2005
  • I30, 2001
  • I35, 2002-2004
  • M35/M45, 2006
  • QX4, 2002-2003

NISSAN

  • Maxima, 2001-2003
  • Pathfinder, 2002-2004
  • Sentra, 2002-2006

If consumers are uncertain if their vehicles are affected, they can check their VIN by contacting their vehicle retailer, or by visiting the NHTSA website https://nhtsa.gov/recalls or by visiting the Nissan or infinitiweb site. 

In July, Honda revealed that it had tied the June 2016 death of a Florida man to the rupture of a recalled Takata airbag in a 2001 Honda Accord. If confirmed the driver died from the exploding inflator, it would be the 13th U.S. fatality and 19th worldwide attributed to a rupture, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

Twelve of the U.S. deaths involve Honda vehicles.

In a separate warning posted on its website, the NHTSA urged consumers to not drive the following vehicles unless they are going straight to a dealer to have them repaired immediately:

  • 2001-2002 Honda Civic
  • 2001-2002 Honda Accord
  • 2002-2003 Acura TL
  • 2002 Honda CR-V
  • 2002 Honda Odyssey
  • 2003 Acura CL
  • 2003 Honda Pilot

The federal agency said new test data on the defective Takata air bag inflators in these vehicles show a far higher risk of ruptures during air bag deployment than for other recalled Takata air bags.

Hammered by recall costs and lawsuits, Takata filed for bankruptcy protection in June.