Ventura County

Tipline Investigation: Takata Recall Tames A Mustang

A special order Boss 302 Mustang sits idle waiting to be fixed.

Tipline Investigation Takata Recall

SANTA PAULA, Calif. - The growing scandal involving Japanese airbag maker, Takata, may cost a Santa Paula man his dream car.

But the reality is those defective airbags could cost someone their life.

In our NewsChannel Three Tipline investigation, we show how millions of Americans are faced with a life and death decision.

David Solis' 2012 Boss 302 Mustang growls as he steps on the gas. It's number 539 of only 700 ever built by Ford.

It's a street legal race car and Solis is a proud owner.

"It looks real nice in my driveway," said Solis as he sat in the driver's seat looking out the front windshield.

It's been sitting in his driveway since July, 2015 when he received the notice that his car is part of the Takata airbag recall.

"I miss driving my toy, I'll tell you that much," said Solis.

After he got the notice, Solis debated whether he should drive the car anyway. It's his only transportation and he's making $700 a month payments on it.

"I called Ford and they told me to go ahead and drive your vehicle, it's safe to drive the National Highway Traffic Administration says so. I called NHTSA, they tell me do not drive your vehicle. Your recall notice says your car can kill you or seriously injure you",  said Solis.

According to the National Highway Traffic Administration or NHTSA, defective Takata airbags have killed ten people so far. The most recent death happened in South Carolina around Christmas. That deadly crash prompted another round of recalls. To date, the Takata recall includes 19-million vehicles by 12 automakers.

Solis said Ford refuses to put in writing that his car is safe to drive or when it might be fixed.

"They're most recent, last story to me was next August or September, they might have my part," said Solis.

What part is Ford and the other automakers scrambling to replace? It's called an inflator. It's a small canister that, during a crash, is designed to create a small controlled explosion that inflates the airbag in a fraction of a second and hopefully save lives. But the defective Takata inflators blow up like a grenade sending shrapnel throughout the cabin of the vehicle.

Instead of saving lives, it's killing people.

Adding insult to irony, Solis is a former autoworker. He worked for General Motors for 25 years.

"In the 80's, we used to fight to keep Japanese parts out of our cars and keep them American made," said Solis.

Now, 30 years later, he sees the irony. A defective Japanese auto part could cost him his dream car.

"I wanted this vehicle since I was a small child and to have this problem with it is just sad. It's a sad situation to think I might have to get rid of it," said Solis.

Solis said he asked Ford to disable the airbag or give him a loaner car, but Ford refused both requests. Besides, NHTSA is advising people not to disable the airbag.

In the last 24 hours, Honda announced it's recalling another 2.2 million vehicles equipped with Takata airbags, including some 2016 Acura models.

It appears the recall is going to get much bigger and it could take years to replace all of those defective takata inflators.

Takata representatives did not return our calls for a comment.

Ford sent us this written response, "Ford is working with NHTSA to prioritize the replacement of air bag inflators to ensure they are replaced as quickly as possible, addressing the highest risks first. Both NHTSA and Takata have indicated that the highest risk vehicles include older vehicles in areas with the most exposure to a combination of both high humidity and high temperatures, such as the southern gulf coast of the United States. Ford is also working with its global suppliers to develop and manufacture safe replacement air bag inflators for the Ford vehicles included in this recall."

We also contacted NHTSA for this story. The following response seems to contradict was Solis said he was told by NHTSA officials:

"You can continue to drive your vehicle, and when parts are available you should bring it in to your local dealer to get the free remedy. A number of automakers are choosing to make loaner vehicles available to owners who request them. We encourage you to ask your dealer if a loaner vehicle is available.

If you think your vehicle may be covered by any recall, you can use NHTSA's VIN Look-up Tool at SaferCar.gov to search for recalls go to: https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/

For the most accurate, up-to-date recall information and to answer your consumer questions go to: http://www.safercar.gov/rs/takata/index.html.


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