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INVESTIGATORS: Potentially Dangerous Recalls Hiding in Your Car

COLUMBUS (Tom Sussi) -- You, or someone you care about, may be driving a vehicle with a potentially-fatal safety recall. FOX 28 Investigator Tom Sussi has an report that could save your life.

Patricia Mincey is a bed-ridden quadriplegic kept alive by machines. "It's very hard to have to tell somebody you love that you're never going to walk again, you're never going to feed yourself again, and you're never going to go to the bathroom normally again," said Mincey's daughter, Kelly Simms.

Life for the once-spry 76-year-old changed forever last June, when her 2001 Honda civic ran a red light and hit an SUV. No one in the SUV suffered life-threatening injuries. Mincey wasn't so lucky.

"Her spinal cord was severed three-quarters of the way," said Simms.

According to the police report, Mincey was driving 30 in a 35. "I just kept telling myself something's not right," said Simms. "The accident was not that bad."

Just four days after the accident, Honda launched a massive recall of malfunctioning air bags. Some were improperly deploying. In other cases, the inflators ruptured and shot metal fragments into the vehicle. Patricia Mincey's Honda was on that recall list.

Lawyers for the Florida woman recently filed a lawsuit against Honda and Takata, the company that makes the air bags. The suit claims Mincey was injured when her air bag "deployed late and violently exploded." A spokesperson for Honda says the company hasn't uncovered any evidence to support those allegations.

What can't be disputed is this: Last year - more than eight million vehicles with Takata air bags were recalled. To date, according to the lawsuit, five deaths and 64 injuries are blamed on the defective safety devices.

Sadly enough, those numbers could increase. And drivers right here in Central Ohio could be the next victims.

FOX 28 Investigators recently teamed up with CARFAX. The Virginia-based company offers a free app that allows you do quickly see if your vehicle has an outstanding recall that hasn't been repaired. All you do is punch in the vehicle identification number, or license plate number.

On a recent afternoon, the Investigators walked a Target parking lot. Within 30 minutes, they came across several vehicles that have the Takata air bag recall including a young woman's Honda CRV.

"The driver's side and the passenger's side," said Chris Basso of CARFAX. "God forbid you're in an accident and those bags deploy. They could explode"

When there's a recall, auto makers mail out recall notices. "The problem is people sell their car, they move and that information doesn't get updated," Basso said.

CARFAX figures more than two-million vehicles registered in Ohio have outstanding recalls. And they're not just for defective air bags either.

On this day, the Investigators found recalls for transmission shift cable fractures, restraints control module, and missing rivets in the driver's air bag.

2014 was a record year for recalls in the United States; 803 recalls involving nearly 64 million vehicles. "The family-oriented vehicles, the mini vans and SUV's, have the highest rate of open recalls of any other vehicle," Basso said.

Just last month, the feds ordered a recall of more than two million older model Toyota, Chrysler, and Honda vehicles. A defective chip in the air bag is causing them to erratically deploy. The recall has nothing to do with the Takata air bag recall.

It's been nine months since Patricia Mincey's accident. She's kept alive by a ventilator and feeding tube. It's memories that keeps her daughter going. "The day before the accident I just happened to call my mom and say hey want to go shopping and we did," said Simms. "And we had lunch. I think back to that and I am grateful we had those moments, because I know I will never have that with my Mom again."

If you want to see if you vehicle has a potentially dangerous recall, there's two ways to find that information. You can download the CARFAX app free of charge. Or you can go to the National Traffic Safety Administration's web page here.

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