Toyota Motor Corp on Monday warned 50,000 owners of older American vehicles to stop driving them immediately and seek repairs for a condition that could be deadly. Toyota asks that you don’t even drive it to the dealer, but instead make arrangements for pickup.
Once again, the danger springs from Takata airbags, more than 67,000 of which have already been recalled across 19 different manufacturers, 34 brands and model years spanning 2002 to 2015. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has called that undertaking “the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history.”
While the recall has been going on since 2016, some 11 million haven’t been replaced yet, according to Consumer Reports. Meanwhile, the US fatality count has reached 26, alongside hundreds of injuries.
The latest stark warning focuses on certain 2003-2004 Corolla, 2003-2004 Corolla Matrix, and 2004-2005 RAV4 vehicles in the USA. On the RAV4, the dangerous bag is on the driver side. On the others, it’s the passengers side. Some Corolla and Corolla Matrix vehicles are under another recall, where they are at risk of airbags deploying outside of an accident, Reuters reports.
The problem is getting worse over time, said Toyota in a statement, such that an airbag that deploys to save your life could instead end it:
“Due to the age of the vehicles, if the airbag deploys, a part inside is more likely to explode and shoot sharp metal fragments which could cause SERIOUS INJURY or DEATH to the driver or passengers. Owners SHOULD NOT DRIVE these vehicles until the FREE safety recall repair has been conducted.”
You can check the status of your vehicle by entering your license plate number or Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) at Toyota’s recall website, or by entering the VIN on the NHTSA recalls page. The repair is free, and most vehicles are done in about an hour, according to Toyota. Some dealers are equipped to perform mobile repair where your vehicle is parked.
In July, Chrysler’s parent, Stellantis, alerted the owners of 29,000 2003 Dodge Ram pickups to likewise stop driving those vehicles until their air bags were replaced. The move followed the latest American fatal rupture.