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Is buying a new car with a defective air bag a safe bet?

Mention the name Takata to anyone in Illinois and you'll likely get one of two reactions. The first will be the quizzical look of someone who doesn't have a clue about what you're talking about. They must have been living in a bunker under the streets of Springfield. The other will probably be the shake of the head and a tsk tsk.

We have observed in at least one previous article that Takata air bags are now at the center of the largest safety recall in automotive history. It started in 2014 and just seems to be getting bigger and bigger with every passing month. The problem is that the bags in question have been known to deploy with an unintended explosive force that sends shards of metal into the passenger compartment of vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says at least 13 deaths and more than 100 injuries are suspected to have been caused by the defective auto products. That's resulted in a massive recall affected nearly 70 million vehicles in the United States and nearly 100 million around the world.

What may be worse yet is word that car manufacturers are still using the questionable devices into some vehicles coming off the assembly line right now. A report released by the leading Democrat on the Senate committee that oversees NHTSA says some 2016 models made by Mitsubishi, Volkswagen and Audi are receiving bags that may be unsafe.

There is no law preventing the carmakers from using the bags, but the senator's report says he's troubled because eventually those cars will be subject to recall. He says they shouldn't be reaching consumers before their fixed.

One legal observer says the problem is that carmakers don't have any other alternative but to use the potentially iffy units. They seem to be depending on a suggestion from NHTSA that the new vehicles won't be prone to problems for another six years.

That begs the question, is it worth betting on?

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