DETROIT -- U.S. safety regulators are demanding that automakers and Takata Corp. expand nationwide a recall of vehicles with certain driver's side air bags equipped with inflators that can erupt and send metal fragments into the passenger compartment.
Previously, cars with the inflators have been recalled only in areas along the Gulf Coast with high humidity. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it's basing its latest decision on an incident that happened outside of those areas.
The owner of a 2007 Ford Mustang recently complained to the government about suffering an injury when an air bag malfunctioned in North Carolina, outside of the recall area.
The safety agency says if Takata and automakers don't agree to the recall quickly, it will use its legal powers to make sure the inflators are recalled.
"We now know that millions of vehicles must be recalled to address defective Takata air bags and our aggressive investigation is far from over," NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman said in a statement.
On a conference call Tuesday, Friedman told reporters Takata has indicated they will not comply.
"Takata's initial response is an unwillingness to move forward," Freidman said." And frankly, that is one of the reasons we are talking to you today because everyone needs to understand that Takata needs to act."
The safety agency has been under intense pressure from lawmakers to seek an expansion of the recalls beyond the Gulf Coast states, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and several other U.S. territories. Friedman and others have been summoned to testify before a Senate committee on Thursday.
Takata has said that in areas of high humidity, airborne moisture can cause the air bag propellant to burn faster than designed, causing the problem.
Last week, Takata was subpoenaed by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York after reports that the company knew about the air bag problem 10 years ago but covered up the results of secret test. Two former Takata employees told the New York Times the testing was stopped after three months, and the evidence destroyed.
NHTSA's demand for a national recall does not cover passenger side air bags, at least not yet. The agency says it has been pushing the auto industry to do tests to make sure current recalls cover all air bags that are defective.
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has scheduled a hearing on the defective airbags for Thursday. Representatives from Takata, Honda, and Chrysler will testify, along with Stephanie Erdman, who nearly died when her airbag explodedwho nearly died when her airbag exploded.
"Every day, when I look in the mirror, I can still feel that piece in me," Erdman said. "I have no idea how I kept my eye. It was a miracle."
The safety agency has also been investigating Ford after receiving a complaint on Oct. 30 from the driver of a 2007 Mustang. In that case, the Mustang was going 35 mph when it crashed into the rear of another vehicle in North Carolina, causing the air bag to deploy. A metal fragment from the air bag injured the driver's leg.
The Mustang crash, which happened on Aug. 17, was notable because it occurred outside of the previous recall boundaries. North Carolina doesn't have the high level of humidity of Florida and other Gulf states.
On Monday, The Associated Press reported that Honda was quietly fixing air bags across the nation if customers were concerned about their safety. So far, Honda has formally issued recalls in 13 states and territories.
In October, NHTSA posted this list of vehicles affected by the recall, urging owners to "take immediate action." The safety agency has asked automakers for a complete list of their vehicles that have Takata air bags.
BMW: 627,615 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 - 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 - 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 - 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 - 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 - 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 - 2006 M3 Convertible
Chrysler: 371,309 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 - 2008 Dodge Ram 1500
2005 - 2008 Dodge Ram 2500
2006 - 2008 Dodge Ram 3500
2006 - 2008 Dodge Ram 4500
2008 - Dodge Ram 5500
2005 - 2008 Dodge Durango
2005 - 2008 Dodge Dakota
2005 - 2008 Chrysler 300
2007 - 2008 Chrysler Aspen
Ford: 58,669 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2004 - Ranger
2005 - 2006 GT
2005 - 2007 Mustang
General Motors: undetermined total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 - 2005 Pontiac Vibe
2005 - Saab 9-2X
Honda: 5,051,364 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 - 2007 Honda Accord
2001 - 2002 Honda Accord
2001 - 2005 Honda Civic
2002 - 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 - 2011 Honda Element
2002 - 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 - 2007 Honda Pilot
2006 - Honda Ridgeline
2003 - 2006 Acura MDX
2002 - 2003 Acura TL/CL
2005 - Acura RL
Mazda: 64,872 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 - 2007 Mazda6
2006 - 2007 MazdaSpeed6
2004 - 2008 Mazda RX-8
2004 - 2005 MPV
2004 - B-Series Truck
Mitsubishi: 11,985 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2004 - 2005 Lancer
2006 - 2007 Raider
Nissan: 694,626 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 - 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 - 2004 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 - 2004 Nissan Sentra
2001 - 2004 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 - 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 - 2005 Infiniti FX35/FX45
Subaru: 17,516 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 - 2005 Baja
2003 - 2005 Legacy
2003 - 2005 Outback
2004 - 2005 Impreza
Toyota: 877,000 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2002 - 2005 Lexus SC
2002 - 2005 Toyota Corolla
2003 - 2005 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 - 2005 Toyota Sequoia
2003 - 2005 Toyota Tundra