SANTA MONICA, California — The expanded recall of vehicles with defective Takata airbags announced on Tuesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will have a major impact on car shoppers, said Jessica Caldwell, an Edmunds senior analyst.
"This recall certainly affects owners, but it also has a big impact on shoppers, especially used-car shoppers," Caldwell said. "We recommend checking to see if there are outstanding recalls on any vehicle before you buy it.
"Shoppers can do this by looking up the VIN at safercar.gov. An outstanding recall is not necessarily a deal breaker but it's smart to confirm with a local dealer that they have the parts on hand to make the fix. If not, inquire how long it might take to obtain them because in some cases, there may be a months-long wait to get the necessary replacements."
U.S. safety regulators ordered Japanese supplier Takata to expand the recall of potentially defective airbags to cover nearly 34 million vehicles, making it the largest automotive safety recall in U.S. history.
The inflators in Takata airbags could rupture, sending metal shards into the passenger compartment and causing serious injury or death, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. At least six deaths and more than 100 injuries have been linked to Takata airbag ruptures.
NHTSA's get-tough attitude regarding the Takata airbag recall was applauded by legislators and safety advocates.
AAA said it supports the "overdue announcement that Takata has agreed to a national recall of driver and passenger-side airbag inflators."
"As an advocate for motorists, AAA believes this recall is a step in the right direction to ensure motorist safety on America's roadways," it said in a statement. "Vehicles are increasingly bought and sold across state lines and may move long distances across the country so AAA believes that it is in the best interest of consumers to expand this recall to all states."
Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, issued a statement on Tuesday, urging NHTSA to speed replacement parts to dealerships.
"NHTSA must ensure that the necessary parts are manufactured more quickly, and consumers deserve to know immediately whether or not the new parts are also defective, possibly requiring them to have their airbags fixed in another five years," they said.
The NHTSA Web site appeared to be having problems on Wednesday morning.
A NHTSA spokesman did not respond immediately to a query from Edmunds asking when the problem will be resolved.