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Defective Takata airbags still used by four automakers

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What do Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, Volkswagen, and Mitsubishi have in common? All four of these leading automakers continue to install defective Takata airbag inflators in their new vehicles despite the massive recalls that have been announced.

This shocking news comes from a report published on Wednesday by U.S. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida.

According to Reuters, the four automakers confirmed they are continuing to sell some vehicles with ammonium-nitrate inflators without a chemical drying agent. Why? Some of them cited engineering and supply challenges. There is indeed a global shortage of replacement airbag inflators.

In case you forgot, inflators made by Takata can explode with excessive force and project metal shrapnel. They are suspected in 13 deaths worldwide and more than 100 injuries. The NHTSA claims there are no deaths or injuries reported in Takata inflators with a drying agent, however.

"What’s troubling here is that consumers are buying new cars not realizing they’re going to be recalled," Nelson said in a statement. “These cars shouldn’t be sold until they’re fixed."

Is it legal to install and sell potentially defective components in new cars? NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind said last month that Takata inflators do not pose unreasonable risk when installed in a new vehicle or for several years afterward, giving automakers the legal assurance to continue to sell the vehicles.

Fiat Chrysler has admitted that at least one of its current models contains a frontal passenger-side airbag that uses the ammonium-nitrate inflators without a desiccant or drying agent. It said Wednesday that no vehicle being sold is under recall.

Toyota, meanwhile, has not provided specific models to Senate investigators, but expects to produce approximately 175,000 vehicles with the defective Takata inflators by July 2017.