Saturday, September 30, 2023


Author claims killer airbags in 12 million cars, trucks nationwide

By James Raia
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states on its website that airbags in cars, trucks and RVs saved more than 50,000 lives in a 30-year span ending in 2017. Jerry Cox believes millions of drivers in the United States are still at serious risk.

A former consultant for Takata, the now-defunct Japanese automotive parts company, Cox has a stark warning. He says 12 million cars and pickup trucks from 19 manufacturers on U.S. roads have defective Takata-made airbags that still have not been replaced.

Cox discusses the details in his new book “Killer Airbags: The Deadly Secret Automakers Don’t Want You To Know.”

“Killer Airbags” details the events that led to the airbag scandal that rocked the automotive industry. Cox also criticizes a recent decision by current administration not to recall an additional 30 million newer-model cars with Takata airbags.

Ammonium nitrate, the chemical used in the airbags made and installed in 70 million cars in 19 different models by Takata, exploded in the defective airbags and led to hundreds of deaths and thousands of serious injuries, Cox states.

The airbags were eventually recalled in the largest consumer product recall ever, but 12 million cars still have these devices that still have not been replaced. Cox writes he warned the company to recall the devices completely in 2014, but it didn’t listen.

“Takata chose ammonium nitrate to inflate its airbags because it was vastly cheaper than more stable propellants,” Cox said. “They faked reports showing ammonium nitrate was suitable and lied about the danger until 2017 when the company was convicted of criminal fraud and went bankrupt.”

In 2015, federal regulators gave Takata until the end of 2019 to prove these “desiccated” inflators safe or to recall the 30 million affected 2018 and later-model vehicles.

Instead of seeking an independent assessment, the Trump Transportation Department secretly solicited an engineering study from the motor vehicle manufacturers who were responsible for pay for the recall. It decided in May 2020 not to recall those vehicles.

“The Transportation Department never asked the Takata engineers who designed those inflators whether they are safe,” said Cox. “All of those experts insist the inflators eventually will turn into hand grenades and that nobody should be driving a car with ammonium nitrate in their airbags.”

By that time, Cox hadn’t been consulting with Takata for a few years. In 2016, Cox viewed a gruesome image of Joel Knight on the internet. Knight hit a cow while driving his pickup truck. The accident was minor, but the Takata airbags deployed. The canister blew like a hand grenade sending a chunk of shrapnel the size of a hockey puck through the airbag and through Knight’s neck – killing him instantly.

Cox said he then vowed to tell the inside story of how Knight and now at least 23 others have been killed and more than 300 have been injured by Takata airbags.

The book is available on the Cox’s website,, as well as on

James Raia, a syndicated columnist in Sacramento, California, publishes a free weekly automotive podcast and electronic newsletter. Sign-ups are available on his website, He can be reached via email:



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Darwin Waldsmith
3 years ago

My experience has been since the beginning of the recall, it has taken to 2020 to fix the passenger side bag and I am working on the drivers air bag still on a 2007 Sprinter Van RV. For over 5 to 8 year no parts was the excuse. After the legal firms received their part of the settlement their clients were left on their own. How many of these millions of air bags are on the road yet?

Sharon B
3 years ago

What about those who did not get the recall??? Hush Hush? Another killer deal made.
My car is one of them. Luckily it is going to the dealer for air bag repair.

3 years ago

Be a more cautious / defensive driver and you will not need the airbag. PLUS – this is OLD news, the issue has been around for 2-3 years and everyone knows about it. Not all vehicles are affected!

Keira B
3 years ago

Ammonium Nitrate is a common fertilizer used by the ton in agriculture. You can also make it blow up.
Most people don’t know that an airbag is an explosive device. The bag inflates very quickly, with a bang. It takes milliseconds to inflate. The bag inflates when you run into something and is fully inflated before your head and body can move forward from the seat. When protected by an airbag, you feel like you are falling onto a pillow. It is a wonderful invention, but it does need an explosion to make it work.
Like all of the wonderful inventions in our world, there is constant improvement. Often, we discover flaws, and fix them. In this case the flaws became apparent after the airbags got older. Recalls were issued, but it is difficult to contact the current owner of a car that has been sold several times. Also, most people who receive a recall notice tend to ignore it, or assume it is another ad from the dealership.

3 years ago

re: Ammonium nitrate
Look what it has done besides in air bags deaths:
Texas City TX explosion April 1947
Oklahoma City bombing, Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, April 1995
Lebanon explosion last week

FYI this initiator chemical has been used on air bags since their invention by Thiokol – we called them gas bags back then.

3 years ago

Link to buy the guy’s book, but not to see if your vehicle is under the recall. Go to for information, and to look up your VIN.

3 years ago
Reply to  Chris

The issue and what he points out in his book is that there are millions of newer cars that have the same airbags that should be on the recall list but aren’t. A link to make, model and years of the vehicles he is talking about would be nice of such a thing exists.

Patrick Granahan
3 years ago

Interesting story…but….my 2005 Toyota Corolla was just recalled for air bag replacement…work was done for free just 4 days ago…..reality check….your story
and my recall are at odds….car is 15 years old and now has new air bags.

don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

Tommy Molnar
3 years ago

Ya think?

3 years ago

You read the article and saw that it was talking about “newer” cars that “haven’t been recalled” having the same problem, right?

The problem only becomes a problem when the airbag gets older. So he’s saying that the newer Takata airbags with ammonium nitrate need to be recalled before they get old and start killing people. That is all.

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