DETROIT >> Toyota and General Motors are telling owners of about 61,000 older Corolla, Matrix, RAV4 and Pontiac Vibe models to stop driving them because their Takata air bag inflators are at risk of exploding.
Monday's emergency alert covers certain Corolla compact cars and Matrix hatchbacks from the 2003 and 2004 model years and the RAV4 small SUV from the 2004 and 2005 model years. Also covered are 11,000 Pontiac Vibes from 2003 and 2004. Matrix and manufactured in the same California factory. Most of the vehicles are in the US
“If an 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 passenger,” Toyota said in a statement.
The recalled RAV4s have Takata driver's airbags, while the Corolla and Matrix models have passenger-side airbags. The Corolla and Matrix are also being recalled separately because their airbags can deploy without a crash, the company said.
Both companies said owners should contact a local dealer instead of driving their cars for repairs. Dealers offer options such as mobile repair, towing the car to the dealer or pick-up and delivery of the vehicle.
Owners can go nhtsa.gov/recalls And enter their 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number to see if their cars are affected.
Takata used volatile ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate the airbags in a crash. But chemical propellants can deteriorate over time when exposed to high temperatures and humidity. It explodes with great force, severing a metal canister and spewing out fragments.
At least 26 people have been killed by Takata blowers in the United States since May 2009, and at least 30 more worldwide, including those in Malaysia and Australia. Also, around 400 people were injured. Exploding air bags bankrupt Japan's Takata.
The potential for a fatal malfunction has led to the largest number of auto recalls in U.S. history. About 100 million inflators were recalled worldwide.