Toyota warns 50,000 US vehicle owners to stop driving, get immediate repairs

Toyota Motor said on Monday it is urging the owners of 50,000 older U.S. vehicles to get immediate recall repairs because an air bag inflator could explode and potentially kill motorists.

The Japanese automaker said the “Do Not Drive” advisory covers some 2003-2004 model year Corolla, 2003-2004 Corolla Matrix, and 2004-2005 RAV4s with Takata air bag inflators.

More than 30 deaths worldwide, including 26 U.S. deaths, and hundreds of injuries in various automakers’ vehicles since 2009 are linked to Takata air bag inflators that can explode, unleashing metal shrapnel inside cars and trucks.

Over the last decade, more than 67 million Takata air bag inflators have been recalled in the United States by more than 20 automakers, and more than 100 million inflators worldwide, in the biggest auto safety callback in history.

FILE PHOTO: A Toyota Corolla is seen in Los Angeles October 10, 2012. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

Toyota said the RAV4 recall involves the driver’s airbag while the other recalls involve the front passenger airbag only. In some Corolla and Corolla Matrix models, certain vehicles are also involved in a second recall that can cause the airbag to deploy even without a crash.

There have been prior “Do Not Drive” warnings issued by other automakers for vehicles with older Takata air bag inflators after fatal crashes. Toyota declined to answer if the “Do Not Drive” warning had been prompted by a serious injury or fatal incident involving one of the vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not immediately comment.

Chrysler-parent company Stellantis in July warned 29,000 owners of 2003 Dodge Ram pickups to immediately stop driving pending repairs after one person was killed when a Takata air-bag inflator exploded.

FILE PHOTO: A recalled Takata airbag inflator is shown after it was removed it from a Honda Pilot at the AutoNation Honda dealership service department in Miami, Florida June 25, 2015. The yellow circular device is the airbag inflator. REUTERS/Joe Skipper/File Photo

In November 2022, Stellantis urged owners of 276,000 other older U.S. vehicles to immediately stop driving after three other crash deaths tied to faulty Takata air bag inflators were reported that year.

Honda Motor in February 2023 issued a “Do Not Drive” warning for 8,200 Acura and Honda vehicles after the death of the driver of a 2002 Accord in Bowling Green, Kentucky from a faulty Takata air bag inflator. Honda has reported 17 U.S. deaths and more than 200 injuries in the United States related to Takata inflator ruptures.

(Reporting by David Shepardson;Editing by Bill Berkrot)