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Jesse explains possible Takata bankruptcy and what this means for car owners

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A possible bankruptcy filing by Takata has left drivers with more questions than answers.

Earlier today Japanese news agencies reported the Tokyo-based company is preparing its US sector for chapter 11 bankruptcy.  The move would allow the company to find a financial backer to help maintain its parts supply operations. At the same time it would pursue an out-of-court reorganization.

Takata has a plant in Moses Lake where it makes inflators for the airbags. Faulty inflators are what prompted a recall of 70 million US vehicles and are tied to 11 U.S. deaths and 16 worldwide.  This recall was so big, Takata hasn’t been able to make enough parts for all the cars involved.

Here are answers to frequent questions you might ask:

What will a bankruptcy mean for car owners?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced yesterday that automakers are ultimately responsible for the cost of the airbag repairs – regardless of what happens to Takata.

How can drivers find out if their car is part of the recall?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will send notices to all car owners impacted the recall. If you didn’t get a notice, NHTSA has created a recall look up tool.

Even if a dealer does have the parts, your car may not be eligible for repair right away – why is that?

Vehicles with old inflators, exposed to heat and humidity are the highest risk. So, those cars are getting repaired first. Federal officials have created a priority list, click here.

Is disabling your airbag a smart option to avoid an unexpected issue?

NO! According to NHTSA, if you have an accident, a Takata airbag is more likely to protect you than to explode and harm you. But no airbag means a 100 percent failure rate.

Should people who have yet to get their airbag repaired stop driving?

According to NHTSA, the vast majority of air bags will perform as expected. But if you don’t feel it’s worth the risk – then don’t drive your car until you can get it repaired.

There’s a real concern for people driving 2001-2003 Hondas. Why? 

Airbags in these cars have a 50 percent chance of exploding. According to the Washington Department of Licensing, there are 81,000 Hondas of that age on our roads. 80% of those are registered in Snohomish, King and Pierce County.  If you own one of these – check the NHTSA website to find out if it’s been recalled and check with your dealer about getting an immediate repair.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images 

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