DETROIT — Nissan and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are urging owners of thousands of older Nissan and Infiniti vehicles to stop driving the cars — stop right now — because of danger posed by Takata airbag inflators. The urgency of the warning was punctuated by NHTSA’s language in the announcement. It’s not often that you see a word like “gruesome” in official government statements:

“Even minor crashes can result in exploding Takata airbags that can kill or produce life-altering, gruesome injuries,” NHTSA said. “Older model year vehicles put their occupants at higher risk, as the age of the airbag is one of the contributing factors.”

Involved in this advice are about 84,000 older vehicles with Takata airbag inflators at increased risk of exploding in a crash and hurling dangerous metal fragments.

A front passenger was killed by an exploding inflator in a 2006 Nissan Sentra, a death reported to NHTSA in 2018. In addition, 58 people have been injured by airbag inflators in Nissans since 2015. And the risk has grown as the cars have aged. 

“Due to the age of the vehicles equipped with defective Takata airbag inflators, there is an increased risk the inflator could explode during an airbag deployment, propelling sharp metal fragments which can cause serious injury or death,” Nissan said in its own statement on the matter.

These are the vehicles that pose the risk:

  • Certain 2002-2006 Sentra small cars.
  • Some 2002-2004 Pathfinder SUVs.
  • 2002-2003 Infiniti QX4 SUVs.

Is your vehicle affected? You can find out by going to or and entering your car’s 17-digit vehicle identification number. (The VIN is typically located on the driver-side dashboard and elsewhere on the car.)

If you have a model listed here as possibly affected, given the age of these cars you may well be a subsequent owner. So don’t expect a recall notice to come in the mail — Nissan may nor may not have been able to keep up with the fact you’re the current owner. Do go to the websites and enter your VIN.

If your car is affected, Nissan wants you to contact a dealer. Your car will be towed to the dealership — and the airbag inflators will be replaced for free. In some locations, it’s possible that a repair technician will come to you. Loaner cars might be available. 

The idea of a Takata airbag inflator recall is, of course, all too familiar. Nissan originally recalled 736,422 vehicles in 2020 to replace the inflators. The 84,000 affected by today’s announcement remain unrepaired and are believed to still be on the road.

Nissan said it has made numerous attempts to reach the owners with unrepaired Takata inflators. But again, it may not have been able to track who or where the current owners are.

The 2018 death is one of 27 in the U.S. caused by faulty Takata inflators, which were installed in a wide variety of vehicles. The devices use volatile ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate airbags in a crash. The chemical can deteriorate over time when exposed to high temperatures and humidity. It can explode with too much force, blowing apart a metal canister and spewing shrapnel.

More than 400 people in the U.S. have been hurt.

Worldwide at least 35 people have been killed by Takata inflators in Malaysia, Australia and the U.S.

These deaths and injuries have led to the largest series of auto recalls in U.S. history, with at least 67 million Takata inflators involved. The U.S. government says many have not been repaired. About 100 million inflators have been recalled worldwide. The exploding airbags sent Takata into bankruptcy.

Honda, Ford, BMW, Toyota and Stellantis and Mazda have issued similar “do not drive” warnings for some of their vehicles equipped with Takata inflators.

Includes Associated Press

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