Recall. It's a word that can mean many things. But in the automotive world, it's an important one. Simply put, a recall is when an automaker announces a faulty part in one of their models and requests the customer to get it replaced as soon as possible. It's to keep their cars to be safe, dependable, and reliable, and also to show transparency between the manufacturer and the consumers.

They need to do these things because one defective part could injure, or even kill, a customer. Besides, no company wants a lawsuit on their hands, especially if they are aware of a product's flaw.

That brings us to the Takata airbag inflator recall. It affects over 30 to 40 million cars worldwide, and that's still a conservative figure. It is the world's biggest automotive recall to date. The reason for the recall? The inflator could explode violently, sending shrapnel to the vehicle's occupants that can cause serious injury, or worse, death.

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It's an alarming issue, but it seems that many still haven't had their inflators replaced. Earlier this month, a driver in Arizona died following a collision that triggered the airbags. That person became the 26th death resulting from the faulty part. At the time of writing, there are 17 deaths reported in the U.S, 7 in Malaysia, and two more from other countries.

Sure, 26 deaths out of 40 million (or more) affected cars don't sound too bad statistically. But try saying that to the families who lost their loved ones because of the defective inflator. This is why you should take recalls seriously. You may not need that airbag in your lifetime, but you're driving around in a ticking time bomb for as long as you haven't changed it. And if an accident does happen, you wouldn't want to be the 27th victim.

It's also the exact reason why automakers issue recalls. It's all about vehicle integrity. Any compromises in safety and reliability must be dealt with as soon as possible. Manufacturers send out notices to owners if their vehicle is part of any recall. However, there is a bit of a problem with that. There's nothing wrong with sending out letters, but sometimes, that car is no longer with the first owner. That is why a lot of vehicles fall through the cracks when it comes to matters like these.

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However, it shouldn't be an excuse not to know about a recall. Aside from sending messages straight to owners, automakers also announce which models are affected. If you head on to local manufacturer websites, most have a bulletin for any recalls that affect local models.

Take the local Honda and Nissan websites for example. You'll see information regarding the Takata inflator recall, along with a plea to bring your car in as soon as possible if it is affected. If you're not sure if your vehicle is part of the recall, these sites, along with many others, come with an online checker. All you have to do is enter your vehicle identification number (VIN), which is located under the hood and on your OR/CR. Manufacturers take this sort of thing very seriously to avoid injury, death, or unpleasant ownership experience.

On the vehicle owner's part, they have to be aware of these things. Even though you don't get a direct message from the automaker, it doesn't mean your car isn't affected. Check if it has any outstanding recall notices, even if it's just once in a while.

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Just because a manufacturer issues a recall, it doesn't mean the entire car is defective or unsafe. It could mean one of the parts from an outside supplier needs replacing. Yes, the word recall has a negative connotation, but you shouldn't hold that against the manufacturer. They should announce these things than sweep the problem under the rug. It not only doesn't fix anything, but it's also downright irresponsible on the company's part. On the owner's part, it's their due diligence to keep the vehicle safe, and a recall is something that should never be ignored.

Yes, it takes time to get the car repaired, but it's better than facing the potentially fatal consequences of one's actions, or in this case, inaction. Any recall should be handled seriously, even if it's just for something as simple as a taillight bulb. Besides, you wouldn't want a truck slamming into you at night because the driver didn't see you. Sometimes, the smallest things have the biggest consequences. Replacing one part could mean the difference between life and death, and we know which side you'd choose.