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Detroit • Japanese auto supplier Takata Corp. agreed to plead guilty Friday to a single U.S. criminal charge and pay $1 billion in fines and restitution related to its ongoing air bag recall.
Here are some answers to questions about the largest automotive recall in U.S. history.
Q: What is wrong with Takata air bags?
A: The driver and passenger-side air bags can inflate with too much force, blowing apart a metal canister and sending shards flying at drivers and passengers. The defect has caused at least 16 deaths and 180 injuries worldwide.
Q: Which automakers are involved and how many cars are affected?
A: The recall affects 42 million vehicles in the U.S., with 69 million air bags. Honda has the most vehicles equipped with Takata air bags. Other brands affected are: Acura, Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Daimler, Dodge, Ferrari, Fisker, Ford, GMC, Infiniti, Jaguar, Jeep, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Mazda, McLaren, Mercedes-Benz, Mercury, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Pontiac, Ram, Saab, Saturn, Scion, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota and Volkswagen.
Q: How do I find out if my car is affected?
A: If your car's air bag is being recalled, you should receive a recall notice from the automaker. Automakers also have recall home pages with information for customers. Or, you can go to the government's Takata page and key in your vehicle identification number, which normally is printed on the registration and stamped on the dashboard.
Q. My car is being recalled. What should I do?
A: Dealers will replace the air bags for free as parts are available, but it will take years to replace all of the affected air bags inflators. The government is prioritizing repairs by vehicle age and climate, since high humidity is a factor in the inflator ruptures. A list of models by priority group is included on the government's Takata page.
Q. What are the highest priority vehicles?
A: The government is urging people not to drive the following vehicles until they are repaired:
2001-2002 Honda Civic
2001-2002 Honda Accord
2002-2003 Acura TL
2002 Honda CR-V
2002 Honda Odyssey
2003 Acura CL
2003 Honda Pilot
Q. Should I ask a dealer to disable my air bag while I'm waiting for a fix?
A. No. The government says it is far more likely that your air bag will perform properly and protect you if you are in a crash.
Q: Will there be enough parts to get my car fixed?
A: Yes. Other suppliers, including Autoliv, are also making replacement air bags. As of early December, nearly 12.5 million air bags had already been replaced.