Epilogue: As of this writing, 13 people have died as a result of exploding Takata air bags. In mid-June, Honda had confirmed over 100 injuries due to these air bags in its own cars. There is no Federal test procedure for air bags. I ordered a new passenger air bag for my Subaru in April; the Boulder dealership is just getting around to installing air bags ordered in February. The dealer turned the passenger bag off, but stated that they could not remove it, as this action was illegal and might result in a lawsuit. And of course, I wonder about the air bag in my steering wheel. Like the passenger one, it uses ammonium nitrate as a propellant, and I'm guessing it takes on moisture and degrades at the same rate. Subaru claims that there's no problem with the driver's air bag. Maybe they're taking Takata's word for it. They're the same people who, 13 lives and a hundred plus injuries ago, were saying there were no problems with any of their products.
*Footnote: TRW tried ammonium nitrate, but applied a freeze-drying technique to deal with the moisture threat, and special welding protocols to strengthen the inflator mechanism. Takata took none of these precautions; owing their high cost, TRW abandoned ammonium nitrate for more stable propellants in 2006.
Photo credit: cargurus.com