STOCKTON (CBS13) — For the last several months, Rick Seim says whenever he gets into his 2006 Honda CR-V he slides his seat back as far as possible.
In January, Seim heard that his CR-V made it on the recall list – alerting him to a potentially deadly defect in the airbag.
“About 18 inches from my face there is an explosive device which may or may not be there to save my life,” said Seim.
The recall of Takata Corporation airbags, installed in several different vehicle makes and models, have reportedly been blamed for at least five deaths in the United States.
But, Seim said his local Honda dealership told him they can’t replace his airbag yet, because they didn’t have the parts.
“To me it’s pretty serious stuff and when you look at that piece of paper [recall notice] and even Honda is saying ‘Yes, people have been killed as a result of this.'” Seim said.
After calling the dealership several times to find out when the parts would be available to fix his airbag, Seim said he was told it would take weeks.
“How long should you have to wait for a fix?” Kurtis Ming asked Rosemary Shahan, with Consumers for Auto Reliability.
“They should be fixed right away,” she said.
She said if there is a delay in getting your car fixed, drivers should speak up.
“You need to be the squeaky wheel, and you need to insist on getting a loaner.” Shahan said
So, why is it taking so long to make the necessary fixes?
Monica Baumann with The California New Car Dealership Association said the high demand for parts is causing a backup.
In Seim’s case, he said he was told by the dealership that the manufacturer is backlogged.
Car dealerships blame the manufacturers for not getting them the replacement parts. However, the manufacturers point the finger toward Takata.
Takata told us in a statement that it “…has dramatically increased the production of airbag replacement kits from 350,000 per month in December to 450,000 per month today in support of automotive recalls and safety campaigns. Takata expects to produce 900,000 replacement kits per month by September 2015 and continues to work closely with its automotive customers and other suppliers to meet consumer demand of replacement inflators. The safety of the driving public is Takata’s number one priority.”
“It’s very frustrating for consumers,” Baumann said. “And quite frankly frustrating for dealers.”
For that reason, dealers are supporting State Assembly Bill 287 that would force manufacturers to give consumers a loaner car, if they can’t fix a recall right away. Manufacturers are against it, and so as are consumer advocates, like Shahan.
“It doesn’t say the loaner needs to be any safer,” She said.
While rental car companies can legally rent recalls, Shahan said the majority have voluntarily had them fixed.
We reached out to Honda about Seim’s case. After we got involved, the dealership somehow found the parts for his vehicle, and scheduled the repair.
In a statement, Honda North America told CBS13, “Whenever a replacement part is not currently available, customers with affected vehicles who desire alternative transportation until their car is repaired have access to loaner cars and rental vehicles at no cost to the customer.”
As for Seim, his airbag was fixed, meaning he is no longer scared of getting behind the wheel. But, he said the experience has soured him on Honda.
“It wasn’t the same high standard of engineering I kind of expected,” Seim.
We also reached out to Auto Alliance, a trade group that represents several manufacturers, they would not comment about repair delays – instead pointed us to Takata.
Takata has had several million airbag inflators recalled since 2008. According to Honda, as of April 1st, approximately 1.4 million Takata airbag inflators have been replaced in Honda and Acura vehicles.
To find out if your car has been recalled, go to safercar.gov