Takata recall: Some drivers get free rental cars, for months – San Francisco Chronicle


Air Force Lt. Stephanie Erdman, whose eye was injured by airbag shrapnel from her 2002 Honda Civic, is surrounded by pictures showing the accident as she testifies before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, November 20, 2014, on the Takata airbag defects and the vehicle recall process. AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSONJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images Photo: JIM WATSON / AFP/Getty Images / AFP ImageForum Photo: JIM WATSON / AFP/Getty Images

Air Force Lt. Stephanie Erdman, whose eye was injured by airbag shrapnel from her 2002 Honda Civic, is surrounded by pictures showing the accident as she testifies prior to the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, November 20, 2014, on the Takata airbag defects and the automobile recall process. AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSONJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

Air Force Lt. Stephanie Erdman, whose eye was injured by airbag…

When Sue Ann Calmeyer of Sebastopol got a recall notice concerning the defective airbag inflator in her Honda Suit last month, she was tempted to toss it aside. Until she read the warning.

It said if the airbag deployed, the inflator could rupture and “metal fragments could pass through the airbag cushion material, possibly causing severe injury or fatality to you or others in the vehicle.”

So Calmeyer decided to take Honda up on its provide of a free rental auto until her Suit can easily be repaired — which could be in July or later, because of a portions shortage. Her Suit cannot be steered while she has actually the rental. Even though she’d fairly be driving her Fit, which gets much better gas mileage compared to her rented Nissan Sentra, “I don’t hope to be driving in a auto if the thing that is supposed to save my life kills me,” she said.

Of the 14 automakers forced to recall cars along with airbag inflators manufactured by the Japanese firm Takata, Honda has actually the a lot of generous rental-auto policy. It likewise has actually the a lot of cars subject to the recall — 8.5 million — and the a lot of deaths blamed on the faulty inflators.

On April 7, a 17-year-old Texas girl became the 10th American believed to be killed by exploding shrapnel As quickly as her airbag, equipped along with a Takata inflator, deployed. Her car, a 2002 Civic, was subject to the recall. Nine of the 10 deaths were in Hondas, one joined a 2006 Ford Ranger. concerning 100 people have actually been injured in Takata-related incidents.

In May, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ordered 11 automakers to recall 24 million Takata airbag inflators installed in concerning 19 million cars sold in the United States. The very first deaths were reported in 2009.

In January, it added three automakers and a lot more cars to the list, which now totals 28.8 million inflators in 24 million cars, making it the biggest recall in U.S. automotive history.

A deployed airbag is seen in a 2001 Honda Accord at the LKQ Pick Your Part salvage yard on May 22, 2015, in Medley, Florida.  Photo: Joe Raedle, Getty Images Photo: Joe Raedle, Getty Images

A deployed airbag is seen in a 2001 Honda Accord at the LKQ Select Your portion salvage lawn on Might 22, 2015, in Medley, Florida. 

A deployed airbag is seen in a 2001 Honda Accord at the LKQ Pick…

Drivers can easily locate a list of recalled cars at http://1.usa.gov/1gnVNCL. They can easily likewise enter their automobile identification number at https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin to see whether it has actually been recalled. a lot of of the damaged automakers have actually websites dedicated to the recall.

Only 7.5 million of the cars subject to recall have actually been repaired so far, due to the fact that the alternative portions are in short supply and created specially for each model. “It’s not love Lego blocks you can easily Suit together,” safety agency spokesman Bryan Thomas said.

The agency has actually issued a “coordinated remedy order” to guarantee the highest-risk cars Get hold of fixed first, Thomas said.

The administration believes that the highest-risk inflators are on the driver’s side, in older cars (generally 2008 or earlier) and in hot, humid places. Its order puts recalled cars in to four priority groups, based on their combination of risk factors. California is not a high-humidity state.

The agency called for automakers to send out an first notice telling customers their cars are subject to recall and a second notice As quickly as their cars are prepared to be repaired, based on the priority list.

The administration is encouraging automakers to usage various other means to reach automobile owners, such as mass advertising and social media. Some are even hiring private investigators, Thomas said. The agency cannot require automakers to offer rental cars, and their practices vary.

Honda’s website says, “If an owner requests alternative transportation while awaiting repair, while the repair is in progress, or if there is a delay in repairing an damaged vehicle, Honda and Acura dealers are authorized to offer a free loaner or rental vehicle.” It says dealers “Might now loan vehicles to teenage drivers, that are generally prohibited from renting or borrowing vehicles because of insurance policies.”

U.S. Honda and Acura dealers have actually offered over 232,000 loaner and rental vehicles to people damaged by the Takata recall because Might 2014, Honda spokesman Chris Martin said.

Mazda’s website said that As quickly as portions are ready, the repair takes concerning one hour. “If you have actually received the recall notice, yet not the letter to delivering in your automobile to have actually the inflator replaced, yes, you can easily request a loaner vehicle,” Mazda spokeswoman Tamara Mlynarczyk said. Mazda has actually offered 1,234 rental cars under the program.

Toyota’s website doesn’t mention free rentals. Its recall is mainly for passenger-edge airbags, spokeswoman Cindy Knight said. “If a customer doesn’t feel safe … they can easily not seat somebody in the front passenger seat. We likewise have actually the option of loaning a auto until they can easily Get hold of the repair part.”

At Nissan, “we have actually generally been able to fix any person that comes in free of a delay. If we don’t have actually the part, if they request a loaner car, we can easily offer that,” spokesman Steve Yaeger said. A spokesman for Infiniti, owned by Nissan, said essentially the exact same thing.

BMW spokesman Hector Arellano-Belloc said, “ Subject to availability, alternate transportation is offered As quickly as requested by a customer.”

However, at Ford, “We are not offering loaner vehicles,” spokesman John Cangany said.

And at Volkswagen, “We are not offering alternate transportation at this time,” spokesman Mark Gillies said.

General Motors spokesman Tom Wilkinson said that for “priority group 1 Pontiac Vibes,” the firm offers to Select up vehicles that called for repairing. If customers demand alternative transportation, “It would certainly be covered by us.”

However, for the Silverado and Sierra HD pickups, Saab 9-3 and 9-5 and Saturn Astra models, “we believe customers can easily go on to drive their vehicles as normal, as neither GM nor Takata has actually any kind of field reports of ruptures, injuries or deaths in the U.S. or Canada from inflators in the vehicles involved in these recalls,” Wilkinson said.

When the safety agency announced the first recall in May, it gave Takata until 2019 to prove that tens of millions of inflators not subject to the recall were safe. Last week, the administration position out a a lot more individual number, saying Takata still should prove that 85 million inflators not currently recalled are safe.

Todd Walburg, an attorney along with Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein in San Francisco that has actually sued lots of auto companies on behalf of consumers, said he would certainly advise owners of recalled cars “to prevent driving the auto immediately. Take it to a dealership and necessity a rental car, due to the fact that the safety of the owner and their families are at risk. If they don’t offer a rental car, look in to legal options” such as small claims court.

Kathleen Pender is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. Email: kpender@sfchronicle.com Blog: http://blog.sfgate.com/pender Twitter: @kathpender