Check to see if your vehicle is on the expanding Takata airbag recall list

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It’s the biggest auto recall in U-S history- nearly 50 million Takata airbags recalled so far, with roughly 20 million more still expected to be target for replacement by 19 different automakers.

The Takata airbags have defective inflators that can turn the very device designed to protect people, into a miniature shrapnel bomb. And the toll of injuries and deaths has been grim. But only about half of these airbags have been replaced. So why are so many of these deadly airbags still on the road? Auto experts at Consumer Reports say they shouldn’t be - and the time to take care of the problem, is now.

Faulty inflators in Takata airbags have led to 15 deaths and hundreds of injuries in the U.S. alone. And more than 26 million potentially deadly airbags still need to be replaced. The highest risk areas are places with a lot of humidity and warm temperatures. Think Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and parts of California.

David Friedman was acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, when the recall went nationwide. He is now the director of cars and product policy for Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports. Friedman says manufacturers need to do more to help people understand how deadly these airbags are. But at the end of the day, it’s your responsibility to get your car fixed right away, if it’s got one of these defective Takata airbags.

Consumer Reports says finding out if your vehicle is involved in the recall is simple. Look for your your VIN (vehicle identification number) on the lower left hand side of your windshield, or on your door jamb . Plug that number into the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. That will let you know if your vehicle is on the list. If it is, contact the dealer to arrange a free replacement, as soon as possible.

The list of recalled cars is growing. So even if you’ve checked your VIN number before, Consumer Reports says it’s important to check it again –– to see if your vehicle has been added to the list.

Ford and Mazda have both now issued warnings to stop driving their 2006 Ford Ranger and Mazda–B series pick-up trucks, and have the vehicles towed to the dealership to replace the airbags.

Also, be aware the airbags in certain Honda and Acura models, from 2001, 2002 and 2003 also show a far higher risk of exploding in a crash.

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