Recalled airbag shortage causing some customers to take drastic measures

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ROCKLEDGE, Fla. — A defective airbag recall has left millions of car owners waiting for replacements with no delivery date in sight.

One Melbourne man decided it was safer to drive without airbags instead of the recalled devices.

WFTV found safety experts warn against that, but admit that’s left drivers with bad options.

The recall notice warned his airbag defect could cause death. But almost six months later, David Kaczmarek does not have a new airbag. His 2010 Ford Mustang had a recalled Takata airbag. The same bag recalled from 34 million vehicles after regulators found it can explode.

Kaczmarek said Ford dealers told him to stand by.

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”You’ll get a notice in the mail to bring it in.’ I still didn’t get that phone call,’ said Kaczmarek.

Nationwide, millions of customers are waiting because the manufacturing backlog is serious.

Kaczmarek, an airline mechanic, removed the bag himself and it has not been replaced.

‘I’d rather have no airbag than a defective airbag that has any chance of exploding,’ he said.

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Safety and repair experts warn against anyone doing that since the majority deploy correctly.

‘You are far better off taking a chance with a defective airbag than no airbag at all,’ explained repair expert Jay Zembower.

Some airbags are more dangerous than others.

In Florida, the risk is automatically higher. Investigators found that high humidity degrades the Takata inflators. 

Zembower said the older the vehicle, the greater the risk.

‘Those generation of cars building in the early 2000s, the older the car the higher rate of concern you have,’ he said.

Some manufacturers have offered rentals until replacement bags arrive, but that’s the exception. Leaving owners with difficult options: park it, trade it or drive it.

‘Get these air bags changed out. Eight lives is way too many,’ said Kaczmarek.

Eight people have died from airbag explosions and 100 have been injured.

Takata is making a million replacement bags a month, but that still means delays could be a year or more.

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Read more: Holiday hazards send thousands of Americans to the hospital

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