The scandal is gigantic! Tens of millions of drivers and passengers risk their lives daily getting in a car: airbags can explode anytime!
The culprits are Takata-made driver and/or passenger airbags that equip some 20% of the cars worldwide. In the early 2000's the Japanese company Takata replaced the airbags propellant with ammonium nitrate that becomes highly inflammable in contact with water and unstable with high temperatures. Humidity? Heat? Well, one or the other can be found in any country. And both of them make even the problem worse, like a tropical country such as Cambodia.
According to an Independent Testing Coalition, an ammonium nitrate compound that doesn't include a moisture-absorbing substance is more likely to explode after long-term exposure to heat and moisture. And Takata airbags do not include moisture absorbent. So the question does not seem to be 'if' one airbag will explode but 'when'!
An exploding airbag might not be such a problem though surprising and unpleasant. The problem is the exploding power of the ammonium nitrate that does not only inflate the bag but also breaks the device and projects metal parts everywhere. Those metal parts are responsible for serious injuries and deaths. Airbags made by Japan's Takata Corp have caused at least 16 deaths and 180 injuries reported worldwide.
Cars are recalled worldwide to upgrade the airbags. Only in USA more than 68 millions cars have already been recalled. Recall means being put on a waiting list that can last a few years. And that does not solve the problem because the wrong airbag is change for a new wrong airbag. Problems are just pilling up.
The last updated list from December 2016 includes the following brands that present models with dangerous airbags: Acura, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Daimler Trucks, Daimler Vans, Dodge/Ram, Ferrari, Fisker, Ford, GMC, Honda, Infiniti, Jaguar, Jeep, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Mazda, McLaren, Mercedes-Benz, Mercury, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, Scion, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen. The list is not complete yet.
All models of a brand are not to be recalled. It depends where they have been assembled. For example, Honda said it concerns only the models built in Japan, Thailand and US. Well, just 100% of Honda cars found in Cambodia!
Japan-branded vehicles are the most popular in Cambodia. According to Mr. Pily Wong, chief executive for the Cambodian distributor of Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen, the Cambodia’s lax import rules make it an attractive market for second-hand importers, yet the risks were also apparent. Control are not very strict with pollution and safety standards. Do not count on your second-hand cars importer to send you a letter about a free airbag exchange.