Millions of people in the United States have vehicles that need to have their airbags replaced. You got your notice, you call your dealer, and they put you on a waiting list because the new airbags are not available, due to the massive numbers of vehicles that have been affected. So what do you do now? We’ve all read the stories of people killed from shrapnel shooting out, doing way more harm than the actual wreck would have, most likely.
Unless you are shorter than four feet six inches tall, the government will not allow the airbag to be disconnected. So, what are you to do to ensure your safety, or the safety of a loved one driving a car?
Although hard, patience is your friend here. Understand the huge numbers of people in the same position you are. Your dealer wants this solved almost as much as you do, and imagine how many people per day they deal with on this issue, yet their hands are tied. They cannot manufacture the airbag you need, although they wish they could.
Be extra vigilant.
The MAIN THING to do if your car needs an airbag replaced is to be hyper-vigilant about paying attention. If your airbag is going to deploy (or not deploy in some cases) it is because you run into something. The airbags in question are caused by frontal impacts; so do not touch your cell phone when driving. Do not take your eyes off the road to change a radio setting, pick up something that fell, or anything else that keeps you from looking straight ahead. Safely pull over to the side of the road to handle these type tasks.
Don’t use the front passenger seat if its airbag is under recall.
In some cases, only the front passenger airbags are affected, and the government recommends nobody sit in that seat. Although inconvenient, it is best if that person sits elsewhere. If you are taking a trip, it might be worth the money to rent a car that is not under the recall.
Consider where you live.
Bear in mind that geographically, areas with high humidity have the highest instances of problems, but we also see issues in hot weather states, too. So given these trends, replacement airbags will go to these areas first. If you are not in a high humidity or hot weather area, your replacement inflator is likely to take longer.
Understand the numbers are astounding. 14 automakers have recalled over 100 million vehicles due to airbag issues. Takata is the main supplier and there is no way this becomes resolved quickly, and there are not nearly enough loan cars to go around for even one-percent of the vehicles affected.
Call multiple dealerships.
I recommend you get your vehicle on numerous dealership lists to have them call you when the dealership receives the replacement airbags. It is hard to know which dealerships will get more airbags than others, so being on multiple dealership lists may speed things up. Once your airbag is replaced, just tell the others who call you the repairs have been completed.
Check your VIN.
I cannot reiterate enough the importance of paying attention to the road if you have an affected vehicle. If you are not 100% sure (recalls are sent by mail, which is not foolproof) then check your vehicle by putting your Vehicle Identification Number in here: https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/
Below is the most recent NHTSA update on overall completion rates. Click here for more information.