In a dramatic demonstration at an Orlando warehouse, Sen. Bill Nelson asked a certified master mechanic to show what an airbag is supposed to look like when it deploys.
The steering wheel airbag, safely secured, inflates in the blink of an eye when the explosive charge expels a gas into the airbag.
In defective airbags, the explosive charge, housed in a thick heavy metal canister, can itself explode, sending sharp metal fragments through the airbag and into a driver or passenger's face, neck or torso.
"Already four people are dead, over 100 injured," said Nelson.
The Florida Highway Patrol continues to investigate a fatal Orlando crash in which a woman suffered deep cuts on her neck. The Orange County Sheriff's Office said Hien Tran's injuries were consistent with an exploding air bag.
Corey Burdick of Eustis lost vision in his right eye last year in a fender-bender when his airbag discharged.
"The airbag flew into my face and I didn't know at the time that anything was embedded in my face until 5-6 hours later they told me I had something in my eye," said Burdick, a fork-lift operator.
Burdick said he was driving a Honda Civic on the recall list but claims he never received a recall notice. Burdick said automakers need to try harder to reach owners who may be the second, third, or even forth owner of the vehicle. Burdick has filed a lawsuit.
Local 6 contacted almost a dozen car dealerships across Central Florida and spoke with representatives in the service department who gave wide-ranging answers when asked if drivers should continue to drive recalled vehicles until they can be repaired, including:
"It's nothing to worry about."
"Just keep driving safe."
"Drive at your own risk."
Nelson said owners of recalled vehicles should not drive.
"Absolutely not," said Nelson. "They need to get out of that vehicle. We are going to press those manufacturers to provide a loaner or a rental."
Nelson said if the manufacturers do not comply, he will ask the federal government to fine the automakers millions of dollars per day.
"The poor dealers are caught in the crossfire," said Nelson. "This isn't their fault but they are the first point of contact."
Nelson said automakers need to instruct dealers on what to tell owners and quickly ship air bags to the dealerships and provide funding for loaner cars.
A total of 7.8 million U.S. vehicles are affected by the airbag recall, according to NHTSA, including:
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