(RNN) - In what's now the largest vehicle recall ever, more than 33.8 million vehicles made by 11 companies have been recalled for faulty air bags, which can randomly explode and send shrapnel at passengers.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the recalls at a press conference Tuesday, and urged drivers to immediately check the VIN of their vehicles.
"Consumers need to get the VIN lookup, if they find that their car, their inflator is covered, then they need to call their dealer and get that inflator fixed," NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark R. Rosekind said.
Drivers can look up their VIN here: https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/.
The companies affected by the recall include: BMW, Chrysler, Daimler Trucks, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota.
"It is fair to say this is probably the most complex consumer safety recall in U.S. history," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
The recall is so massive, parts for repairs may be difficult to come by, but the NHTSA said drivers should not wait.
The agency's plan is to make sure people work with their dealer to get the piece replaced as soon as possible as supplies become available.
Takata-manufactured air bags have been linked to at least five deaths in the U.S. because of a defect with air bag inflators, which can cause the air bag to explode.
"It is clear that moisture can affect the chemical structure of the propellant that is used in the inflator," Rosekind said, adding that it will then cause the inflator to burn hotter than it should, which is what causes the explosions.
Unfortunately, the replacements may not be completely safe either, Rosekind confirmed.
Rosekind said the NHTSA was in the process of doing their own testing and looking for an "effective remedy that is long-standing," but that even temporarily replacing the inflators was safer than leaving the recalled parts in place.
Rosekind said Japan-based Takata has been working with the government to correct the issue.
The NHTSA has suspended its penalties against Takata after they reached more than $1 million. However, further penalties could be forthcoming depending on the investigation, Rosekind said.
Rosekind said he expects the recall to continue to grow, but the agency doesn't know the exact number yet.
You can find more on the recall at SaferCar.gov here.
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