Toyota is urging the owners of 50,000 older vehicles to stop driving the cars immediately and get their airbags fixed. According to the voluntary recall, the vehicles should not be driven until their faulty airbags have been repaired or replaced.
The recall notice, issued on Thursday, covers these models:
- 2003-2004 Corolla
- 2003-2004 Corolla Matrix
- 2004-2005 RAV4
Because of the age of the airbags, it’s more likely that a part inside could explode and shoot sharp metal fragments, which could lead to serious injury or even death, the automaker said.
“Owners SHOULD NOT DRIVE these vehicles until the FREE safety recall repair has been conducted,” Toyota said in the statement.
Toyota said it is recommending that owners not drive the vehicles to get fixed. Instead, vehicle owners should contact their local dealer, which can arrange for a number of other options, such as performing a mobile repair at the vehicle’s location or tow the car to the dealership.
Takata air bags
The recalled RAV4s have Takata driver’s air bags while the Corolla and Matrix models have them on the passenger side. The Corolla and Matrix also are under a separate recall because their air bags can be deployed without a crash, the company said.
The voluntary recallsafter Toyota recalled about 1 million cars in the U.S. because the front passenger air bags may not deploy properly in a crash, posing additional risk of injury to riders.
Takata used volatile ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate air bags in a crash. But the chemical propellant can deteriorate over time when exposed to high temperatures and humidity. It can explode with too much force, blowing apart a metal canister and spewing shrapnel.
At least 26 people have been killed in the U.S. by Takata inflators since May 2009, and at least 30 have died worldwide including people in Malaysia and Australia. In addition, about 400 people have been injured. The exploding air bags sent Takata of Japan into bankruptcy.
The automaker said the airbag will be repaired or replaced for free.
You can check if your vehicle is part of the recall by entering your VIN number or license number at Toyota.com/recall or nhtsa.gov/recalls. Car owners can also call Toyota customer support at the Toyota Brand Engagement Center at 1-800-331-4331.
– With reporting by the Associated Press.