DETROIT — A dangerous Takata air bag should have been recalled before going from a wrecked car to a salvage yard, eventually ending up in a 2002 Honda Accord and nearly killing a Las Vegas woman, a lawsuit alleges.
The Accord had been fixed up and sold in March of 2016 to the family of Karina Dorado, a 19-year-old woman whose trachea was punctured by shrapnel spewed by the faulty air bag. The family claims it was never informed that the air bag was subject to a recall.
How that air bag got into the Accord is detailed in the lawsuit filed Friday in Nevada. It highlights the sometimes suspect world of auto parts recycling and shows how dangerous recalled parts can find their way into used cars that are sold to unsuspecting buyers.
It’s unclear just how many faulty Takata inflators are being used in refurbished vehicles, but Honda, once Takata’s biggest customer, says it has bought 75,000 of them from salvage yards in the past two years to keep them off the road.
“It’s an unknown, which is kind of terrifying from a consumer perspective,” says Michael Brooks, chief counsel for the Center for Auto Safety, a nonprofit safety advocacy group founded by Ralph Nader. “There’s no good way to track these things.”
Takata uses ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion that inflates air bags in a crash. But the volatile chemical can deteriorate over time when exposed to heat and humidity and burn too fast, blowing apart a metal inflator canister. The inflators are responsible for up to 19 deaths worldwide and more than 180 injures. They have sparked the largest auto recall in U.S. history involving nearly 70 million inflators.
Selling a recalled auto part is illegal under a 2000 federal law that is seldom enforced. But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the federal government’s road safety agency, confirmed to The Associated Press that it’s investigating the Dorado case. “The agency has the authority to enforce civil penalties on…