The fault in airbags made by Takata could be deadly. Reuters/Yuya Shino

More than one million British drivers have had their cars recalled in an alert over faulty airbags that can explode and spray out shards of metal.

The recall follows concern about potentially lethal airbags made by the Japanese firm Takata that can burst when inflating, hitting drivers and front-seat passengers with shrapnel.

Statistics obtained by the Sunday Times show that the scandal has touched many more motorists than had been thought, with the number of cars recalled almost double what was previously reported.

The issue centres on the airbag inflaters that may not have been properly sealed and could be damaged by moisture. This can make the airbag propellant burn too strongly when it is used, spraying metal fragments into the car's interior.

The defect has been linked to six deaths in Honda cars – five in the US and one in Malaysia – and more than 100 injuries. There have been no recorded incidents in Britain.

Takata last week revised up its estimate of the number of cars affected worldwide from 17 million to 34 million.

Although the figures do not include recent recalls. Nissan has recalled another 116,912 cars in addition to the 76,268 included in the UK's Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency's figures. Cars affected in the company's most recent recall include the Almera, Terrano 2 and the X-Trail built between 2004-2007.

Honda is recalling at least 207,000 UK cars. It says 122,000 drivers' airbags are affected and just over 207,000 passengers' airbags.

Some vehicles may need both airbags replacing.

Subaru plans to recall about 10,500 cars, believed to be Imprezas, built between 2004-2007.

The scale of the recall has left manufacturers and dealers struggling to cope.