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Toyota warns owners of older models to stop driving until air bags are replaced

Toyota is encouraging owners of older models of Corolla and RAV4 vehicles to stop driving them because of a problem with air bags.

The automaker issued a warning over the chance of Takata air bag inflators blowing up and throwing shrapnel. It focuses on some 2003 and 2004 model year Corolla and Corolla Matrix, alongside 2004 and 2005 RAV4s.

“If the airbag deploys, a part inside is more likely to explode and shoot sharp metal fragments which could cause SERIOUS INJURY or DEATH to the driver or passengers,” Toyota said in a statement.

“Owners SHOULD NOT DRIVE these vehicles until the FREE safety recall repair has been conducted. Toyota urges owners to contact their local dealer instead of driving their vehicle to be repaired,” the statement continued.

Volatile ammonium nitrate was used by Takata for the inflation of the air bags, but it can deteriorate over time due to temperature and humidity, according to The Associated Press. Explosions can then occur with a large amount of force that can damage a metal canister and spread shrapnel.

Owners can go to nhtsa.gov/recalls and enter their 17-digit vehicle identification number to see if their cars are affected.

The Associated Press contributed.

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