Honda and the government have asked owners of some 8,200 20-year-old cars to stop driving them until the airbag inflators are replaced.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a “do not drive” warning on Friday for 2001-2003 vehicles with Takata inflators that have a high chance of exploding and splintering in an accident.
The agency says the risk to drivers and passengers is severe because so-called "Alpha" inflators have a 50 percent chance of exploding in the event of an accident. If the inflators burst, they can throw splinters into the driver's face that could kill or seriously injure the driver.
The agency claims Honda and Acura vehicles were previously recalled, but records show that repairs have not been made to all affected vehicles. Honda has already complied with replacing 99 percent of the inflators deemed dangerous.
The affected automaker's vehicles include the 2001 and 2002 Honda Accord and Civic, the 2002 Honda CR-V and Odyssey, the 2003 Honda Pilot, the 2002 and 2003 Acura 3.2 TL, and the Acura 3, 2 CL of 2003.
Owners can check if their vehicles are covered by going to https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls and entering the 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN).
Takata uses ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion that inflates the airbag in a crash. But the substance can become more volatile over time from continuous exposure to ambient humidity and high temperatures. The explosion can break its metal container and throw metal fragments into the cabin.
Since 2009, airbag explosions have killed at least 33 people worldwide, 24 of them in the United States.