Thune and Nelson Press Department of Transportation for Takata Recall Update

Inquiry to Secretary Chao continues committee oversight of ongoing threat to public safety

June 2, 2017

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who serve respectively as the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today requested that Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao provide information on the status of efforts to recall and repair 46 million faulty Takata air bags in U.S. vehicles. Defective Takata air bag inflators have been linked to 11 deaths and approximately 180 injuries nationwide.
“We urge the new administration to continue to work toward the objectives of the coordinated recall effort, focusing on the repair of the highest risk vehicles as soon as possible, while easing potential consumer confusion,” wrote Thune and Nelson. “While the Committee awaits the nomination of a new NHTSA administrator, which we hope will take place soon, progress on repairing defective Takata inflators must continue.”

Thune and Nelson’s letter asks Chao to respond to the following seven questions:

1)   What is the current number of vehicles affected by the Takata air bag recalls that have not yet been repaired?  Please categorize the number by manufacturer, vehicle, and inflator type.  
2)   Does NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration) believe that a gap exists between the number of inflators in need of repair and the availability of replacement parts?  If so, describe the number and types of vehicles for which replacement parts are unavailable, as well as NHTSA’s efforts to work with automakers and suppliers to increase the availability of replacements to meet demand.
3)   Is NHTSA satisfied that the phased approach to the recalls – replacing certain higher risk inflators first before launching all recalls by 2019 – strikes an appropriate balance between maintaining the availability of replacement parts and ensuring vehicle occupant safety?
4)   Describe NHTSA’s efforts to increase consumer awareness and reduce potential confusion with respect to the Takata recalls.
5)   Describe any efforts NHTSA has taken to encourage implementation of any recommendations from the independent monitor to automakers and/or Takata with regard to overall recall effectiveness.
6)   What is the current status of Takata’s investigation, pursuant to paragraph 30 of the November 2015 Consent Order, into the safety of its desiccated ammonium nitrate-based inflators?
7)   What steps has NHTSA taken to implement the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act, enacted as part of the FAST Act (Pub. L. 114-94)?
On February 27, 2017, Takata agreed to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud related to falsification of its inflators’ safety performance and to pay $1 billion in criminal penalties. Three Takata executives face criminal charges for their alleged connection with the Takata fraud scheme. Takata has also been required to implement greater internal controls and to retain an independent monitor to ensure the company’s compliance.

NHTSA has been overseeing Takata and automaker efforts to conduct the recalls. Current available studies of the root cause of the Takata inflator failures indicate that the risk of failure increases as a result of long-term exposure to environmental moisture and high temperature fluctuations. Therefore, not all Takata inflators represent the same level of danger. For this reason, NHTSA established a recall prioritization schedule to ensure the repair of higher risk vehicles first and the availability of replacement parts in order to protect the driving public. As of April 28, 2017, only 36.4 percent of recalled Takata air bag inflators had been repaired.

For information about the Takata air bag recall and to find out if your car is affected visit

Click here to read the full letter from Thune and Nelson to Chao.