That’s the disturbing claim made by two former Takata employees this week, speaking with The New York Times.
The pair alleges Takata ordered 50 tests on passenger airbag units recovered from written-off vehicles in scrap yards, after learning of a possible fault.
The steel inflators in two of the units reportedly cracked during testing, resulting in metal fragments being projected towards the front seat passengers.
These reported results - obtained a decade ago - are consistent with underlying reasons for the airbag recall today (see Nightly Business Report video, top of page) which to date has seen over 14 million vehicles affected.
The former employees claim Takata’s engineers immediately began work on a solution to the problem in preparation for a recall, before the parts-maker ordered them to delete the testing data from computers and dispose of the faulty products.
“All the testing was hush-hush,” one former employee said.
“Then one day, it was, ‘Pack it all up, shut the whole thing down.’ It was not standard procedure.”
Four years after the alleged secret tests, Takata claims to have first discovered the problem before alerting authorities.
A spokesman for Takata reportedly declined to comment when contacted about the matter, but a statement from the company says the information from the former employees is “fundamentally inaccurate”.
Ramifications for Takata from a potential ‘cover-up’ are unclear, but the parts-maker says it will fully cooperate with the US government investigation currently underway.
MORE: Massive Takata Airbag Recall Continues: Nissan, Honda, Mazda Australia
MORE News & Reviews: Recalls | Airbags | Road Safety