HOUSTON - You may be driving around with a ticking time bomb in your car. The recall notification group Safe Airbags says 400,000 vehicles are still on Houston roads with dangerous, recalled Takata airbags inside years after the recall began.
The largest recall in history started back in 2013. But 400,000 Houstonians haven’t taken their cars into a dealership to get a free replacement airbag yet, according to www.SafeAirbags.com.
Experts say the chances of the airbags exploding in Houston's humidity is even higher.
17-year-old Huma Hanif of Fort Bend County was one of at least 25 people killed by Takata airbags, exploding in accidents, sending shrapnel flying at drivers. Hundreds of other people have been injured.
"I would like for anyone watching this to pray for my sister and our family," said Huma's brother Faizon Hanif said, speaking about the accident.
But years after the airbags were recalled, Safe Airbags says 400,000 Houston drivers still haven't taken them in for a free replacement.
"I equate it with driving around with a grenade in your steering column. If it goes off, one thing can happen and it’s all bad," said Patrick Juneau with Safe Airbags.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found a chemical reaction happens, particularly in humid climate's like Houston's, causing the inflators to explode.
"Think of that coming right into a person's face, resulting in disastrous things to the people in the vehicle, the driver, and other people," described Juneau.
Worldwide, the Takata airbags in 44 million vehicles made by 34 auto manufacturers were recalled. Just this past December, another 1.4 million Takata airbags were recalled due to a faulty seal that can cause the inflators to either explode or deploy too slowly in a crash.
If your vehicle's airbag has been recalled, safety experts urge you to get your free replacement.
"If I was driving one of those vehicles, I'd say get that darn thing out of my car. I’m going to take care of that today. That's the first priority for me and for my family," said Junueau.
The replacement usually takes about an hour or less and many dealerships provide loaner cars.
To check if your vehicle's airbag was recalled, you can enter your VIN onto the site SafeAirBags.com or call 1-844-724-0295.
Before you buy a car, you can also check whether it has an open recall by entering the VIN on SaferCar.gov. If a recall is still open, you can ask the seller to have it repaired.