Feds Warn Owners To Repair Cars with Exploding Takata Air Bags

Oct 21, 2014 03:30 PM EDT | Jordan Ecarma

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Federal regulators really, really want you to get your car fixed--and you should probably listen.

The government has issued an "urgent plea" to more than 4.7 million owners, advising them to take their vehicles in for repairs if they are part of the recent Takata air bag recall that safety advocates say has been related to at least four deaths and multiple injuries, the Associated Press reported.

Owners can go to SaferCar.gov to look up their model through the vehicle identification number and see if it has been recalled.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been investigating the issue since June. Automakers have recalled around 12 million vehicles worldwide for faulty air bag inflators that can cause the air bag to explode and send metal fragments flying at the vehicle's occupants.

Tokyo-based Takata is the second-largest supplier of auto parts in the industry, and Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, General Motors and Ford vehicles have all been affected by the recall.

On Monday, Toyota issued the latest air bag-related recall, affecting 247,000 older models including the Lexus SC, Corolla, Matrix, Sequoia and Tundra.

The air bag fiasco, which reportedly stems from improper storage that exposed air bag components to moisture, is further reducing faith in automakers in the wake of GM's disastrous small car recall earlier this year.

Carmakers and federal regulators have recently been under fire for failing to notice issues in 2.6 million GM vehicles that were finally recalled after being connected with at least 19 deaths and for long delaying a Toyota recall for unintended acceleration.

"This undermines the credibility or confidence in driving, generally, and in cars," Ashvin Chotai, managing director of researcher Intelligence Automotive Asia, told Bloomberg News by phone. "There's very little consumers can do about it. Of course they feel less confident about sitting in a car and they'll be extra cautious, but beyond that, what can you do?"

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