Hawaii auto dealers flooded with calls about defective airbags - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii auto dealers flooded with calls about defective airbags

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nearly 8 million vehicles have now been recalled in the U.S. due to defective airbags that could explode in a crash, sending shrapnel flying. There is added urgency for thousands of Hawaii drivers since investigators are looking into the possibility that high humidity may be part of the problem.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging owners of certain Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, BMW, General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Subaru, and Mitsubishi vehicles to act quickly on recall letters to replace faulty Takata airbags. Four deaths may be connected to a faulty inflating device.

The phones are ringing off the hook at local car dealerships as customers try to find out if their vehicle needs to be fixed.

There are potentially 12,889 Toyota and 168 Lexus vehicles affected in Hawaii, according to Toyota Hawaii. Company officials said that only the front passenger airbag is involved.

"If it is one of those models and those model years, the recommendation is to immediately stop having anyone sit in the front passenger seat," said Rick Ching, president of Servco Automotive.

Ching said the company doesn't have the parts needed to fix the problem right now. Dealers will temporarily disable the front passenger airbag.

"They're working as quickly as possible to get parts to us, but we do not know when the parts will be available. My understanding is there is a worldwide shortage of the parts that are necessary to do the repair," said Ching. "We certainly apologize for that because I think our customers are frustrated. We may be inconveniencing them so we're trying to do whatever we can to minimize the inconvenience for our customers."

For Honda vehicles, the problem could include both the driver and passenger airbags. The three dealers on Oahu indicated that the replacement process usually takes anywhere from one to three weeks.

The website SaferCar.gov allows drivers to enter a vehicle identification number to see if their car needs to be fixed, but the site was experiencing some problems.

 For a list of the affected vehicles, go to http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/2014/Vehicle-owners-with-defective-airbags-urged-to-take-immediate-action


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