Why investigators are still probing Takata air bag inflators

2 min read
Why are US auto safety regulators opening a new investigation into Takata air bag inflators installed in millions of vehicles built over the past 20 years?
Some of those vehicles have the original inflators installed when they were manufactured and some have inflators installed as replacements in vehicles previously recalled. In certain situations, mainly long exposure to extreme heat and humidity, the inflators can unexpectedly rupture, sending metal shrapnel through the vehicle cabin with the potential to cause injuries and deaths.

What is an 'inflator'?

An air bag inflator is a small explosive device designed to ignite in a split second in a vehicle crash, then rapidly fill a large cushion with inert gas to help shield and protect occupants from serious injury.

A family-run Japanese company called Takata, now controlled by China's Joyson Electronic Corp, started supplying air bags to auto companies around the world in the late 1980s.

Takata inflators made since the late 1990s use a powerful chemical, ammonium nitrate, as a propellant. When that chemical is exposed over long periods to moisture and heat, it tends to break…
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