An independent monitor for the massive Takata airbag recall recently released a progress report. Of the 43 million airbag inflators currently under recall, fully 25 million still hadn't been repaired as of mid-September.
That's 64 percent still unrepaired, and this is only the first phase of recalls. By the end of 2018, the recall will swell to include some 65 million inflators.
As you may know, the defective inflators contain metal parts and ammonium nitrate, an explosive. When exposed to humidity, the chemical can explode too forcefully during a crash. When it does, it can send metal shards hurtling through the passenger compartment like shrapnel.
The faulty parts have been blamed for 13 deaths in the United States and hundreds of injuries. Unfortunately, Takata was a widely-used manufacturer of airbag components, so 19 automakers are affected by the recall.
The independent monitor said that the efforts by various automakers to effect repairs "vary widely." He added that the industry is making meaningful progress, but "there remains much room for improvement."
Injured Air Force officer working with Honda to urge drivers to get the repair
If you need additional incentive to take your car in for the free repair, consider the harrowing story of this Air Force officer who nearly lost her eye when an airbag inflator in her 2002 Honda Civic exploded during a crash.
When she was in a crash in 2013, her Civic's airbags deployed -- but the driver's side airbag exploded and shot metal fragments into her right eye. She remembers thinking she would lose the eye, as blood ran down her face.
She only just kept the eye after enduring four surgeries. Some involved removing metal fragments. One was to rebuild her eyelid with tissue taken from an ear. She has double vision and migraines and she still can't close her eyelid all the way and has trouble sleeping.
She is now helping Honda get the message out through Facebook videos and other means. She is working with Honda -- a company she criticized several years ago at a U.S. Senate hearing. She settled her lawsuit with Honda for an undisclosed amount. Now she has the same goal as the company, which is to get the faulty airbag inflators out of cars so no one else gets hurt. She isn't being paid to appear in the videos.
"I feel like there needs to be a real sense of urgency on the part of anyone driving these cars," she says. "I don't want them to have to go through what I went through."
If you are unsure whether your vehicle is included in this recall, get the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). This is visible at the base of the windshield, under the hood at the front of the engine, or in the driver's door jamb. It can also be found on your car's title, registration card and insurance documents.
Once you have your VIN, use NHTSA's VIN lookup tool to determine whether your vehicle is affected. Then take the time to get the free repair.
"Waiting even for a day could be the difference between life and death," the officer says.