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    Automakers recall 1.7 million cars with fatal airbags

    23 people have died due to problems with Takata-made air bag inflators.
    ap file photo
    23 people have died due to problems with Takata-made air bag inflators.

    DETROIT — Subaru, Tesla, BMW, Volkswagen, Daimler Vans, Mercedes, and Ferrari are recalling about 1.7 million vehicles to replace potentially deadly air bag inflators made by Takata Corp. of Japan.

    The inflators can hurl shrapnel into drivers and passengers. At least 23 people have died from the problem worldwide and hundreds more were injured.

    The moves, announced Friday by the US government, are part of the largest series of automotive recalls in US history. About 10 million inflators are being recalled in the US this year, with as many as 70 million to be recalled before the recall ends late next year.

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    Takata used the chemical ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate the air bags. But the chemical can deteriorate over time due to high humidity and cycles from hot temperatures to cold. The most dangerous inflators are in areas of the South along the Gulf of Mexico that have high humidity.

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    The recalls, which began in 2001, are being phased in over time and managed by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

    Many of the recalls are limited to specific geographic regions in the US. Owners can check to see if their vehicles have been recalled by going to https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls and keying in a 17-digit vehicle identification number.

    In the latest round, Subaru is recalling 826,144 vehicles, including various Forester, Legacy, and Outback models from 2010 to 2014. Mercedes is recalling 288,779 vehicles from model years 2010 to 2017. Volkswagen is recalling 119,394 vehicles, including Audi and Passat models from 2015 to 2017. BMW is recalling 266,044 vehicles from 2000 to 2004 model years and the 2007 to 2015 model years.

    The recalls also include 159,689 vehicles from Daimler Vans spanning model years 2015 to 2017. Tesla is recalling 68,763 Model S vehicles from 2014 to 2016 and Ferrari is recalling 11,176 vehicles of various models ranging from 2014 to 2018 model years.

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    As of December, automakers have recalled 50.36 million inflators and replaced 27.2 million of them. That leaves more than 23 million yet to be replaced, according to the NHTSA website.

    Ford, Honda, Toyota, and Fiat Chrysler already released their 2019 Takata recalls totaling more than 5 million vehicles.

    The recalls forced Takata Corp. to seek bankruptcy protection and sell most of its assets to pay for the fixes.