• Volkswagen is adding the coupe and convertible versions of its 2015-2016 Beetle to the Takata airbag recall.
• The Takata airbags become dangerous only over time, and the new recall is a preventive measure - but owners are urged to act quickly.
• The models most at risk are those located in warmer, more humid climates.
Toward the end of 2022 came reports of more fatalities related to defective airbags from defunct manufacturer Takata. In December, Volkswagen informed U.S. authorities that it was adding 38,000 units of its Beetle model to the list of models affected by the airbag recall.
This time, owners of 2015 and 2016 Beetles (coupes and convertibles) are being called back to have the potentially dangerous airbags replaced. This comes in addition to a previous recall targeting 2012-2014 Beetles. Volkswagen says that the threat is not immediate for the vehicles now being recalled, but it reminds everyone that the chances of failure increase with time and exposure to moisture.
This has been seen recently with deaths related to older models, including Dodge vehicles from the mid-2000s, as well as a 2002 Honda Accord.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is allowing a staggered recall of affected models, possible given that it the airbags really only start to pose a danger over time, as the vehicles age. The potential danger is also affected by location, and so vehicles in hotter, more humid climates are prioritized over those located in drier areas.
“The Takata SDI-D driver frontal airbag inflators installed in the recalled vehicles currently do not pose an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety to drivers of affected vehicles,” Volkswagen's recall letter states. “Based on its prior conversations with NHTSA, Volkswagen understands that the Agency is concerned that after additional time, the airbag inflator may not perform properly in the event of a crash. Out of an abundance of caution, Volkswagen agrees to recall certain vehicles.”
Auto manufacturers continue to urge owners of vehicles subject to a Takata recall to avoid driving them and to have them repaired as soon as possible. The repair is free, remember.
And for those who think the risk isn't that great right now, they are encouraged to think about what to do next. When they no longer own their model, it will end up on the second-hand market and it is future owners who will be at risk.