Carmakers' Safety Advice Triggers Angry Reaction

Car owners stew over delays for new air bags that were recalled on BMWs and Toyotas

The latest safety advice from the makers of recalled cars has triggered an angry reaction in Southern California.

Millions of cars, from 10 different automakers, have been recalled because they have air bags made by the Japanese manufacturer Takada.

The air bags may have a defect that could cause them to spray shrapnel when deployed. Four deaths have been linked to the faulty air bags.

With the demand for replacement parts outweighing supplies, recalled car owners are stuck on the waitlist for repairs.

With delays expected to last months, BMW and Toyota officials have begun urging drivers of recalled cars to keep riders out of the passenger seat, where they could be hit by a dangerous air bag.

BMW was the first manufacturer to embark on a global recall of all potentially affected vehicles, therefore it is taking time to acquire the required parts, said Dave Buchko, a spokesman for BMW of North America.

"We are working closely with the supplier to get an adequate supply of replacement parts to our BMW centers as quickly as possible," he said. "If a customer is concerned, we recommend not having passengers ride in the front passenger seat or placing objects on the seat, until the air bag is replaced."

John Hanson, a Toyota spokesman, told Bloomberg, that the advisory is "a very focused attempt to raise awareness with owners of affected vehicles in these particular regions, where we have found the incidence of failures is the highest."

Recalled BMW owner Bill Caras of Manhattan Beach is furious about the inconvenience and the safety threat.

"They're literally sitting across from a loaded gun," he said. "I may have options. My wife has a big car, but I'm thinking about people who may not have options.

"If you could save one life ... why wouldn't you do that?"

Ruben Villagrasa, a master BMW technician at Avus Autosport in Glendale, understands Caras' concerns, but said luckily, here in Southern California, the danger posed by the Takata air bags is less severe.

"These drier climates that we're in, they're not as affected as the more humid climates," he said. "Humidity causes corrosion, which apparently causes the problem.

"California -- everyone wants to buy one because there's no corrosion."

But Villagrasa has concerns about the recall.

"My (BMW) has a recall, and I have to send it in, and they told me they don't have any (parts)," he said. "I wouldn't drive with my wife. Bottom line."

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