On Alert

Florida Recycler Gets The Word Out About Takata Airbags



Tim McMillon works to remove Takata airbags from vehicles at his Florida salvage yard.

Photo by: M & K Used Auto Parts

Tim McMillon wants to spread the word about the Takata airbag recall – even if it means talking to just one Honda driver at a time.

McMillon, the President and CEO of M & K Used Auto Parts, Inc., in Orange City, Fla., said that whenever he sees someone driving a Honda – usually a customer at his yard – he’ll ask if they’ve checked to see if there is a recall on the vehicle’s airbag.

“Most people say no,” he said. “Either they didn’t know about it, or they say they had heard something about it, but they didn’t really think about it.”

McMillon is also spreading the word on a much larger scale. In August, an Orlando news station featured him in a story about the airbag recall. In the piece, McMillon discussed how he and other members of the Florida Auto Dismantlers and Recyclers Association (FADRA) are working with Honda in a nationwide effort to remove recalled airbags from salvage yards. 

McMillon said FADRA and ARA then e-mailed the video clip of his interview to their members, causing it to 
“go viral” among recyclers in Florida and nationwide.

“Hopefully a lot of other organizations saw this email and sent it out,” he said. “I think now that the word is out, a lot more people are getting on board.”

Recall History

The recalls began in 2013, when Takata, a Japanese airbag parts supplier, acknowledged defects in its inflator and propellant devices. According to a statement from ARA, the airbag propellant could go off accidentally in hot, high-humidity conditions, turning the inflator into “shrapnel.”

According to Car and Driver Magazine, the defective airbags have led to 184 injuries and 11 deaths in the U.S. Car and Driver also reports that the recall involves approximately 42 million vehicles in the United States.

“We’ve known for the past couple of years what’s been going on, but things have really blown up in the past year,” McMillon said. “Everyone needs to step up to the plate trying to get these out of the marketplace.”

The number of recalled airbags continues to grow, however, as more makes and models are added to the list, making it the largest vehicle recall in history.  Takata pled guilty earlier this year for initially covering up the defects.

Because of the huge scope of the recall and the danger posed by the defective airbags, auto recyclers need to be extra vigilant about removing the defective bags from their yards. Fortunately, said McMillon, the process is simple.

Rebuilders Automotive Supply

Recyclers should check the VIN on every vehicle they buy to find out if there is an airbag recall, he said. If an airbag does have a recall, Rebuilders Automotive Supply (RAS) will buy back the defective airbags.

RAS will pay $55 for each validated driver airbag module and $60 for each validated passenger airbag module. Over the past two years, RAS has collected over 80,000 recalled airbags from salvage yards across the U.S. and Canada, said Marcy King, director of the online buying division for RAS.

Recyclers should visit the RAS web site at www.rascorepro.com and follow the step-by-step instructions. A representative from RAS will then contact the recycler and will even provide shipping supplies. Recyclers are paid within 30 days, and the airbags are destroyed.

King said RAS has four employees devoted entirely to the recall effort.

“We’ve built a recall team,” she said. “Those four people specifically do outreach and nothing else but airbags.”

“RAS is really helping out,” added McMillon. “They’re really working 
with us to get the airbags out of the marketplace.”

Industry Tools

McMillon said that other companies, such as eBay, Car-Part.com, and Hollander are also helping to keep recalled airbags out of the marketplace. For example, eBay has filters in place that prevent recalled airbags from being sold on the site. Car-Part.com has filtered over half a million recalled airbags from its search results.

“I think eBay is really doing a good job of it,” he said. “If a VIN number with a recall comes up, they’ll remove the listing right from eBay. They’re helping us, too.”

Hollander will send e-mails to recyclers that list VIN numbers corresponding to recalled airbags. This is especially helpful, said McMillon, because often an airbag will be recalled long after a yard has inventoried the part.

“Even if you check the VIN number when a car comes in, it’s possible that there’s not a recall today, but there could be a recall next week,” he explained. “Hollander came up with a tool that will e-mail you when there’s a recall. That’s been a big help to us. You get the e-mail, and then you know, oh, geez, that’s been recalled, and then you can pull it out of the system.”

Because the recall involves every Honda model from 2002 to 2012, Honda has reached out to auto recyclers in a nationwide effort to remove the airbags from the marketplace. McMillon said a Honda representative contacted him a few months ago. So far, Honda has recovered more than 70,000 airbags from salvage yards in the United States.

“There are quite a few yards that are working together to help Honda get rid of these airbags,” McMillon said.

McMillon’s state association, FADRA, has been proactive about spreading the word. What can other state associations do?

Get the word out, said McMillon. Let members know about the issue in e-mails, newsletters, and social media posts.

“Eventually everyone will be on the same boat, and we’ll all be doing the right thing,” he said. “It really comes down to just doing the right thing. They just shouldn’t be for sale.” 

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