Honda Motor Co said on Saturday it has confirmed a 17th US death tied to a faulty Takata airbag inflator.
After a joint inspection with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Japanese automaker said that it confirmed a faulty airbag inflator was to blame for the August 20 crash of a 2002 Honda Civic that cause the death of a driver in Mesa.
The defect elicits the largest automotive recall in U.S. history and is tied to 15 US deaths in Honda vehicles and two in Ford Motor Co vehicles since 2009 which leads in rare instances to airbag inflators rupturing and sending metal fragments flying. More than 290 injuries are also tied to faulty Takata inflators and at least 26 deaths worldwide.
While the passenger’s frontal airbag inflator was recalled in 2014, Honda said the 2002 Civic had been under a recall since December 2011 for replacement of the driver’s frontal airbag inflator.
Honda sent mailed recall notices more than 15 over eight years to registered owners of the vehicle before the crash and made other attempts to contact owners. The driver killed was not the registered owner and it was not certain if the driver was aware of the unrepaired recalls, Honda said.
The most recent previous fatal confirmed U.S. incident was the June 2018 death of a driver after the crash of a 2002 Honda Civic in Buckeye.
Including about 63 million inflators in the United States, the Takata recalls cover about 100 million inflators among 19 major automakers worldwide.
The cause of inflator explosions that can emit deadly fragments is propellant breaking down after long-term exposure to high-temperature fluctuations and humidity, NHTSA said.
In August, Honda agreed to pay $85 million to settle an investigation by most U.S. states into its use of defective Takata inflators.