Man dies when air bag inflator ruptures during car repair

Posted July 12, 2017

The American division of Honda Motor Company has confirmed another death it says is due to faulty Takata airbag inflators.

Honda confirmed on Monday that a man died in June 2016 when an inflator ruptured while he was working inside a 2001 Honda Accord using a hammer. Ramon V. Kuffo, 88, who did not own the vehicle but had taken apart the center console with the ignition switch on, died of head trauma a day after a neighbor found him bleeding from the face in the passenger seat of the auto parked in his yard near Miami, Fla., reports the Detroit News. Honda said the hammer triggered the activation of the air bag inflator, which ruptured as the bag was being deployed.

In the event of an inflator rupture, metal fragments could pass through the airbag cushion material, which may result in injury or death to vehicle occupants. It would not release the man's name.

At least 17 deaths and 180 injuries worldwide are now linked to the issue. The Accord in question was one of more than 300,000 un-repaired Honda vehicles still on the road equipped with the defective airbag inflators. The owner had received 12 recall notices.

NHTSA estimates that Honda has fixed almost 60 percent of all the recalled airbags within its own and Acura vehicles - but that still leaves millions of inflators needing a fix.

"Our records indicate that the recall fix was never completed on this vehicle", Honda's statement said.

However, after analyzing the inflators involved in the latest recall, Takata said some showed "a pattern of propellant density reduction over time that is understood to predict a future risk of inflator rupture".

The airbags on the following Hondas models have up to a 50% chance of exploding in a crash: 2001 and 2002 Accord and Civic, the 2002 CR-V and Odyssey, the 2002 and 2003 Acura 3.2 TL, the 2003 Acura 3.2 CL and the 2003 Pilot.

Last month, Takata filed for bankruptcy protection in the USA and Japan following call backs for over 100 million faulty airbags, with global liabilities expected to reach up to $US10 billion ($A13.2 billion).

Honda urged owners who have received recall notices to get repairs made as soon as possible, especially those with the most unsafe type of inflator.

The company's bankruptcy filings cleared the way for a $1.6-billion takeover of most of Takata's assets by rival Key Safety Systems, which is based in Detroit and owned by a Chinese company.

He disclosed that Takata has recalled, or expects to recall, by 2019 about 125 million vehicles worldwide, including more than 60 million in the US.