North Texas

Drivers Still Waiting for Airbag Replacements after Takata Recall

North Texas drivers say they've been waiting on their defective airbags to be replaced for nearly two years. NBC 5's Samantha Chatman looks into the delays and gets answers from carmakers.

Sharon Austry used to be proud of her 2011 Lincoln MKZ. But now, she can't stand to drive it. 

"I'm outraged," Austry said. 

In July of 2016, she learned her vehicle had a serious problem.

She received a letter in 2016 that says, "Warning: Until remedy parts become available, do not allow anyone to sit in the first row passenger seat."

The letter also says the airbag inflator could rupture during deployment in a crash and cause injuries or even death.

But the letter says parts to fix the airbag wouldn't be ready until spring 2018.

"This is ridiculous," said Austry. 

She couldn't fathom the idea of waiting nearly two years for parts, so she went to her local dealership.

"They said there was nothing they could do," Austry said. "I asked if we could get a loaner car. They said no. I asked if we are going to get any kind of compensation. They said no.

She said she called Ford, the maker of Lincoln, and got the same answer, meaning she'd have to wait it out and avoid what she calls "the death seat."

Jane Pulliam of Fort Worth said she's going through the same thing with her 2011 Chevy Silverado.

She got a safety recall notice from GM back in 2016 saying "this is based upon Takata's decision that front passenger airbag inflators it supplied to GM are defective."

"The dealership, they said well there's really no problem. There's only been 11 incidents. And I said, 'only 11, huh?'"

She said she doesn't want one of her passengers to be number 12, but the dealer isn't offering a loaner car.

David Friedman with Consumers Union said he's troubled by how some carmakers are handling the Takata airbag recall.

"First of all, they should have the parts. It's inexcusable for car companies or dealers not to have the Takata airbag parts anymore," he said. "Two, if you don't have the parts, give your customer a rental car. Period."

Friedman said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and car companies have all said there aren't really parts problems anymore.

"But clearly, if people are finding that they can't get the parts, there's still a serious problem out there," he explained.

Ford tells us they don't have record of Austry calling their customer service line.

The company says, "Ford may be able to provide loaner vehicles to customers in certain instances…Ford does have some parts available now for some repairs….We are working with our suppliers to expedite parts as quickly as possible."

As for GM, the maker of Chevrolet, they tell us based on extensive research "Takata inflators used in the 2011 Silverado and related full-size trucks and SUVs do not pose an unreasonable risk to safety."

GM says it's petitioning NHTSA to change its ruling on the passenger airbag inflators in the 2011 Chevy Silverado and related vehicles.

Neither of these responses sat well with Austry or Pulliam. 

"Come up with other cars. I don't care if it's a Lincoln. Give me something else that doesn't have death seat," said Austry. 

Austry told us it's spring 2018, yet the airbag parts are still unavailable.

NBC 5 Responds went back to Ford to see if they would provide her with a loaner vehicle. They told Samantha Chatman that they've expidited her claim and will work with her to try to make that happen.

We also wanted to know what NHTSA had to say about the delays.

NHTSA says it is "actively engaged in monitoring the vehicle manufacturers' efforts to remove all recalled Takata inflators from vehicles….Vehicles with Takata air bag recalls are categorized into twelve priority groups, based on risk, and NHTSA has assigned a repairs parts deadline to each priority group.  If a consumer receives a notice that parts are available but is not able to get the vehicle repaired, he or she should notify NHTSA."

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