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Honda Confirms Latest Takata Airbag Fatality

Honda Confirms Latest Takata Airbag Fatality
2004 Honda Civic

Honda has confirmed that a Takata airbag inflator ruptured in a fatal collision in Louisiana. The driver of a recalled, but not repaired, 2004 Civic was killed, marking the 13th confirmed Takata-airbag-linked death so far in the U.S., along with 180 injuries.

Related: Is Your Car Part of the Takata Airbag Recall?

Honda and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a joint investigation into the crash on July 10 in Baton Rouge. The Civic had been recalled and had never gotten the recall repair.

The airbag inflator that ruptured and killed the driver was not the original equipment, however. At some point, the airbag module in the car had been replaced with one from a 2002 Honda Civic, and is believed to have been obtained from a salvage yard.

It is the second time a junkyard airbag has been involved in a Takata fatality. Honda has an ongoing effort to track down and buy back recalled inflators that have ended up in salvage yards, and the company says it has taken more than 100,000 out of circulation.

Honda is the automaker most affected by the Takata recall. According to its Takata recall fact sheet, it currently has about 11.4 million Honda and Acura vehicles recalled in the U.S. for about 17.8 million individual driver- or passenger-side inflators, and that as of Nov. 10 about 71 percent of its recalled inflators have been replaced. It continues to urge owners to "take immediate action" to get their recalled cars repaired, particularly if they are in the "Alpha" group of older Honda and Acura vehicles identified as posing highest risk.

The defective Takata inflators can degrade from exposure to heat and humidity, and explode with too much force, sending metal fragments at the occupants. The recall for the inflator defect is now the largest automotive recall in history, being phased in over years and already covering 46 million airbag inflators in 29 million cars in the U.S. The still-expanding recall is expected to affect 64 million to 69 million inflators in 42 million cars by 2020.

The message continues to be for car owners to get recall repairs done, and for those owners to refrain from installing salvage airbags that have been stored in unknown conditions. You can check your vehicle for all open recalls by its vehicle identification number using NHTSA's online search tool. Learn how to find your VIN with our short video here.

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