Honda recalls 1.2 million vehicles with dangerous air bags

DETROIT (AP) — A type of Takata air bag inflator once thought to be safe has now come under scrutiny after a crash and explosion in Maryland injured the driver of an older Honda minivan.

The incident forced Honda on Tuesday to recall about 1.2 million vehicles in North and Central America from the 2001 to 2016 model years that were not included in the massive string of Takata recalls for air bags that can hurl shrapnel into the passenger compartment.

Takata used ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion and inflate air bags in a collision. But the chemical can deteriorate when exposed to high temperatures and humidity and blow apart a metal canister, spewing out shrapnel. At least 23 people have been killed by the company's inflators and hundreds more injured.

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Fiat Chrysler recalls 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivans
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Fiat Chrysler recalls 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivans
Timothy Kuniskis, Head of Passenger Car Brands - Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA - North America, introduces the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, January 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan is unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, January 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
Timothy Kuniskis, Head of Passenger Car Brands - Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA - North America, speaks next to the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, January 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
Timothy Kuniskis, Head of Passenger Car Brands - Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA - North America, stands next to the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, January 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan is unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, January 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan is unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, January 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan is unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, January 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
Interior view of the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan at its unveiling at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, January 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 11: Chrysler introduces the 2017 Pacifica minivan at the North American International Auto Show on January 11, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. The show is open to the public from January 16-24. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Chrysler 2017 Pacifica minivan is unveiled during the press preview of the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, on January 11, 2016. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD / AFP / JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
CHICAGO - FEBRUARY 11: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica 'hands-free' Minivan is on display at the 108th Annual Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois on February 11, 2016. (Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)
Chrysler 2017 Pacifica minivan is unveiled during the press preview of the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, on January 11, 2016. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD / AFP / JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
A row of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) 2017 Crysler Pacifica minivan vehicles are displayed for sale at a car dealership in Moline, Illinois, U.S., on Saturday, July 1, 2017. Ward's Automotive Group released U.S. monthly total and domestic auto sales figures on July 3. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is seen at the Washington Auto Show in Washington January 29, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron/File Photo
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The inflators in the Tuesday recall contain a moisture-absorbing chemical called a dessicant that was added to keep the ammonium nitrate stable. They were believed to be safe and were never part of the broader recall. They had even been used to replace older inflators under recalls that began in 2014.

But Honda and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that a crash on Jan. 19, 2018 involving a 2004 Honda Odyssey initiated an investigation and Tuesday's recall when investigators discovered that the driver's air bag inflator ruptured. The probe determined that inflators made at Takata's Monclova, Mexico, factory were faulty due to a manufacturing defect, Honda said.

It's unclear how many inflators with the dessicant were used by other automakers or whether the government is investigating if they should be recalled as well.

The driver suffered an arm injury.

The recall covers certain Honda and Acura models largely in the U.S. and Canada. Included are the 2001 to 2007 and 2009 Honda Accord, the 2001 to 2005 Civic, the 2002 to 2007 and 2010 and 2011 CR-V, the 2003 to 2011 Element, the 2007 Fit, the 2002 to 2004 Odyssey, the 2003 to 2008 Pilot, and the 2006 to 2014 Ridgeline pickup. Also included are certain 2003 Acura 3.2CL cars, as well as the 2013 to 2016 ILX, the 2003 to 2006 MDX, the 2007 to 2016 RDX, the 2002 to 2003 3.2TL, the 2004 to 2006 and 2009 to 2014 TL, and the 2010 to 2013 ZDX.

NHTSA, the government's highway safety regulator, issued a statement Tuesday acknowledging the recall and saying that not all vehicles that received replacement air bag inflators are affected by the recall. The agency urged owners to check for open recalls by keying in their 17-digit vehicle identification number on the NHTSA website www.nhtsa.gov/recalls .

The statement did not say whether NHTSA is investigating whether other automakers used the dessicated Takata inflators and if they are safe.

Honda said in a statement that owners will be notified by mail in early April, but replacement parts from manufacturers other than Takata are available to begin the recall immediately. Honda is offering free loaner cars while vehicles are being repaired.

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