REPLACEMENT OF TAKATA SAFETY BELTS PROGRESSING TOO SLOWLY, NHTSA

WASHINGTON, March 3 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA) said today that it is disappointed with the low rate at
which vehicle owners are responding to a recall of Takata Corp. safety belt
buckles. 
"Vehicle owners who have not yet responded to notices that repairs of
their safety belt assemblies are available at their dealerships, should have
the work performed," said NHTSA Administrator Ricardo Martinez, M.D.  "The
replacement is free and it will ensure that the belt buckle will work as
intended.  Safety belts are the first line of defense against motor vehicle
death and injury." 
Only 1.6 million, or 18 percent, of the nearly 8.9 million 1986-91 cars
and trucks involved in the largest-ever vehicle recall have been repaired in 
the first year of the campaign, NHTSA said.  The recall was announced in May
1995 and automakers began notifying owners in September 1995. 
Vehicles involved in the recall were sold by Honda, Nissan, Chrysler,
Mitsubishi, Mazda, Subaru, General Motors, Suzuki, Isuzu, Daihatsu and Ford. 
The majority of the vehicles involved were made by Honda and Nissan.  Only
22 percent of the 4.2 million Hondas and only 14 percent of the 2 million
Nissans affected have had the work performed. 
Automakers are required to notify NHTSA quarterly of the recall completion
rates.  NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation is concerned about the low
completion rates and would like to see a meaningful increase in the completion
rates during subsequent reporting quarters. 
Release buttons on the affected safety belt buckles can break and become
inoperable.  The recall applies only to the vehicles' front safety belts.
NHTSA is not aware of any evidence that rear safety belts have broken or
failed to work property. 
Owners who have any questions about this or any other safety recalls
should call the toll-free Auto Safety Hotline at 800-424-9393.  In the
Washington, D.C., area, the number to call is 202-366-0123. 
An electronic version of this document can be obtained via the World Wide
Web at: http://www.dot.gov/affairs/index.htm.
 

SOURCE  U.S. Department of Transportation 
-0-                             3/3/97 
/CONTACT:  Phil Frame of the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration, 202-366-9550/ 
CO:  U.S. Department of Transportation; National Highway Traffic Safety 
 Administration; Takata Corp.
ST:  District of Columbia
IN:  AUT TRN
SU: 
-0- (PRN) Mar/03/97   17:40
EOS   (PRN)    Mar/03/97    17:40      86
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