Two different air bag glitches have forced Toyota and Honda to recall more than six million vehicles worldwide, the car companies say.
Both problems present different dangers to motorists.
The Toyota recall affects some 3.4 million vehicles globally and is being undertaken because the air bags might not inflate in a crash.
The cars have air bag control computers, made by the company ZF-TRW, that are vulnerable to electrical interference and may not signal the bags to inflate.
The problem could affect as many as 12.3 million vehicles in the US made by six companies. It is possible as many as eight people have been killed due to non-inflating air bags, in cases being investigated by US safety regulators.
Honda’s recall covers some 2.7 million vehicles in the US and Canada with Takata air bag inflators. Those involve a different version of air bag than the ones blamed for 25 deaths worldwide. Still, it is possible the air bags could blow apart a metal canister and propel shrapnel at drivers and passengers.
In a statement, Toyota said a computer controlling the air bags might not have adequate protection against electrical noise that can happen in crashes, such as when one vehicle runs under another.
The problem can cause incomplete opening of the air bags, or they may not open at all. Devices that prepare seat belts for a collision also may not work.
In most cases Toyota dealers will install a noise filter between the air bag control computer and a wiring harness. But in some vehicles dealers will inspect the computer to determine if it needs the filter.
The recall covers certain 2011-2019 Corollas, the 2011 to 2013 Matrix, the 2012 through 2018 Avalon and the 2013 to 2018 Avalon Hybrid in the US. Owners of cars subject to the recall would be notified by mid-March, Toyota said.
In March of 2017, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began investigating problems with ZF-TRW air bag computers. The probe was expanded in April of last year to 12.3 million vehicles made by Toyota, Honda, Kia, Hyundai, Mitsubishi and Fiat Chrysler from the 2010 through 2019 model years.
Toyota joins Hyundai, Kia and Fiat Chrysler in issuing recalls for the problem. Four deaths that may have been caused by the problem were reported in Hyundai-Kia vehicles and three in Fiat Chrysler automobiles.
The Honda recall covers certain Honda and Acura vehicles from the 1996 to 2003 model years.
The front driver’s inflators being recalled are part of a recall announced by Takata in November covering at least 1.4 million vehicles from five automakers. Honda said it’s recalling a larger number of vehicles to make sure it gets all of the defective inflators.
In this case, the inflators do not contain ammonium nitrate, which is blamed for previous Takata problems that have killed 25 people and injured hundreds worldwide.
But three of the newly recalled inflators exploded and hurled shrapnel, two in Japan and one in Texas that injured a driver, Honda said in a statement. The company said in all three cases, the inflators were exposed to excessive moisture.
In Texas, the car had a salvage title with a date that coincided with a major flood, while the two cases in Japan were in salvage yards where car windows were typically left open, the company said.