DETROIT — A new and distinct problem has been discovered in air bags made by the now bankrupt company Takata that has led to at least one death.
The recently discovered malfunction is different from the defect that led to at least 24 deaths and hundreds of injuries worldwide, though the result, as with the earlier issue, leads to air bags that can explode and hurl shrapnel, killing or injuring people.
Takata is adding about 1.4 million front driver inflaters to recalls in the United States, according to government documents posted Wednesday.
BMW is warning owners of some older three-series cars to stop driving them.
A driver in Australia was killed by an air bag malfunction, while another Australian and a driver in Cyprus were injured, according to government documents.
Included in the recall this week are more than 116,000 BMW three-series cars from the 1999 to 2001 model years. About 8,000 definitely have faulty inflaters and should be parked, BMW said.
The rest still can be driven.
In addition, certain Audi, Honda, Toyota and Mitsubishi vehicles made from 1995 to 2000 also are being recalled, but information on which models was not immediately available.
Unlike previous recalls, the Takata non-azide inflaters do not use volatile ammonium nitrate to fill the air bags in a crash.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
But the air bag propellant still can deteriorate over time when exposed to moisture and explode too fast, blowing apart the inflater body.
They also might not fully inflate to protect people in a crash.
Takata says in government documents that it made about 4.5 million of the inflaters worldwide but only a portion still are in use because the vehicles are so old.
The faulty inflaters have problems with insufficient seals.
Toyota and Honda said they’re still figuring out which models will have to be recalled.
U.S. safety regulators said they were told by Mitsubishi that the only U.S. vehicle affected is the 1998 through 2000 Montero. A company spokesman was seeking more information.
In a statement, Audi said it is investigating whether any 1997 to 1999 model year A4, A6, A8, or TT vehicles are affected in the U.S.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a statement that it is in discussions with automakers about the recalls.
It urged owners to search for recalls in the coming weeks by entering their vehicle identification number at www.nhtsa.dot.gov/recalls.