Cypress, Calif. – Oct. 10, 2017 – Mitsubishi Motors North America has recalled more than 66,000 vehicles possibly equipped with defective Takata air bag assemblies, according to documentation filed with the National Transportation Safety Administration. The campaign affects 2004-2006 Mitsubishi Lancer sedans with production dates ranging from Aug. 4, 2003 to Aug. 28, 2006, as well as 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback station wagons made between Aug. 4, 2003 and Jan. 23, 2004, and 2004-2006 Mitsubishi Lance Evolution sedans that rolled out of the factory between Feb. 11, 2004 and Sept. 1, 2006. The Japanese automaker suspects 100 percent of the vehicles named in the recall contain the defective safety features.
The cars referenced in the campaign are likely to contain Takata air bag assemblies with defective inflators prone to rupture during deployment. These fixtures pose a serious threat to occupants, as metal debris is emitted and dispersed throughout the cabin at high speeds when inflator ruptures occur. Dozens of other car manufacturers across the globe have been forced to recall models equipped with the Takata air bag assemblies addressed in this campaign. Automakers in the U.S. have recalled more than 42 million vehicles with Takata-made air bags, according to Car and Driver. At least 17 people have died as a result of these features, The New York Times reported.
Timeline of Events
In Oct. 2014, Mitsubishi recalled more than 11,000 Lancers believed to be equipped with Takata air bag inflators, according to the NHTSA. The automaker then initiated a field collection effort to recover air bag parts from affected models for further evaluation. Takata engineers reviewed the air bag components recovered from the field to see if they were actually defective. The parts provider submitted the results of the tests to Mitsubishi Nov. 19, 2004. Takata personnel had analyzed 12 inflators, with only one showing signs of abnormal inflation. The two parties convened with NHTSA officials to discuss the part, which came from a vehicle used in southern Florida.
On Nov. 24, Mitsubishi decided to conduct a voluntary safety recall that included models from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas. The campaign also covered vehicles sold in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Saipan and American Samoa. On May 27, 2015, the automaker expanded this recall to include all 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer sedans, as well as 2006 models containing problematic Takata SPI inflators.
Between May 2015 and September 2017, Mitsubishi service teams replaced the inflators in these vehicles with like-for-like temporary parts as a stopgap measure, until permanent replacements were ready. In September 2017, the automaker finished an internal evaluation of the replacement parts, ultimately finding them satisfactory. With the replacements in hand, the car manufacturer decided to conduct a voluntary safety recall to address all of the unrepaired vehicles covered in the two previous actions.
Mitsubishi notified dealers Oct. 5.
The automaker has directed dealers to replace the defective Takata air bag inflators in affected vehicles free of charge, according to an NHTSA recall acknowledgment document. Mitsubishi plans to notify owners via first-class mail Oct. 22. Those in need of more immediate assistance can contact Mitsubishi customer service at (888) 648-7820. Callers should use the internal recall identification code SR-17-004. Owners can also contact the NHTSA using its Vehicle Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236.