Call to check for deadly airbags before the holidays

3 December 2020

Over 65,000 vehicles with deadly Takata airbags remain on Australian roads with just four weeks until the compulsory recall deadline.

As Australians are more likely to be holidaying at home and by car this summer, the ACCC is calling on consumers to prepare for a safe holiday by checking their airbags and booking in for a replacement if they are affected by the recall.

Takata airbags have the potential to explode in an accident, even in minor ones, and can send sharp metal fragments through the vehicle at high speed, potentially seriously injuring or even killing its occupants. Globally, there have been over 350 injuries and 32 deaths reported, with one death and three injuries in Australia, including one serious injury.

More than 2.7 million vehicles have now been rectified, leaving about two per cent remaining for replacement. Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane’s outer suburbs have the most airbags still outstanding.

Under the compulsory recall, manufacturers are required to replace all of these Takata airbags by 31 December 2020.  

“More than 65,000 of these dangerous vehicles are still on our roads, potentially putting people’s lives in danger. Replacements are free of charge, and there is no excuse for not getting it done,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“Before you get away this summer, please check your cars even if you have checked before, and get your friends and family to check their vehicles too.”

“All you need to do is type in the car’s number plate and state or territory of registration online at ismyairbagsafe.com.au. You can even check it for others. It takes less than a minute and could save a life,” Ms Rickard said.

More than 6,000 of the remaining vehicles are classified as critical, meaning they should not be driven at all. Owners should instead contact their manufacturer to arrange for the vehicle to be towed or for a technician to be sent out, free of charge.

“We’re concerned by the number of people who have refused to have their airbags replaced and the number of airbags that have not been retrieved. We want to assure people that replacements will not cost anything, and could help protect you and your loved ones,” Ms Rickard said.

“States and territories are imposing registration sanctions for vehicles affected by the recall. Drivers who don’t get their airbags replaced could risk having their vehicle’s registration cancelled,” Ms Rickard said.

Businesses that sell spare parts such as auto recyclers also have obligations under the compulsory recall to check if they have affected airbags and notify manufacturers so the airbags can be safely collected and destroyed. The ACCC is aware of at least one death associated with a used dangerous Takata airbag that was installed into a vehicle as a repair following a collision.

Consumers can visit ismyairbagsafe.com.au, the Product Safety Australia page, or contact their manufacturer to check if their vehicle is affected. A list of vehicle manufacturer helplines and contact details is available online. 

Facts and figures:

  • In total, more than 3.71 (90.2 per cent) of airbags have been replaced in 2.72 million (88.9 per cent) of vehicles.
  • There are 79.514 (1.9 per cent) of airbags in 65,451 (2.1 per cent) of vehicles remaining for replacement.
  • Of these, 6,818 vehicles are classified as critical, with 564 alpha vehicles and 6,254 non-alpha vehicles. 
  • A further 273,856 (8.9 per cent) of vehicles have been deemed by suppliers as written-off, stolen, unregistered for more than two years, exported, modified and unable to be replaced, or where the owner has been unresponsive or uncontactable.

Notes to editors

The Takata airbag recall is the world’s largest automotive recall, affecting an estimated 100 million vehicles globally.

It is the most significant compulsory recall in Australia’s history, with over four million affected Takata airbag inflators and involving more than three million vehicle recalls.

Takata airbags affected by the compulsory recall use a chemical called phase-stabilised ammonium nitrate (PSAN). The ACCC’s investigation concluded that certain types of Takata PSAN airbags have a design defect. The defect may cause the airbag to deploy with too much explosive force so that sharp metal fragments shoot out and hit vehicle occupants, potentially injuring or killing them.

Vehicle manufacturers are required to ensure all cars with affected Takata airbags have their airbags replaced by 31 December 2020 or provide adequate evidence to the ACCC to satisfy deemed compliance with replacement obligations.

Deemed compliance applies to unresponsive or uncontactable consumers where supplier communication obligations have been met, cars unregistered for two years or more, or those that are written-off, exported or stolen.

Manufacturers have ongoing obligations to replace outstanding inflators where they have not achieved 100 per cent actual replacement. Manufacturers must also retrieve spare parts when notified. This obligation extends beyond 31 December 2020 until 100 per cent actual completion is achieved.   

Manufacturers are required to provide updated recall progress reports relating to the period to 31 December 2020 to the ACCC in January 2021. The ACCC will provide a recall progress update in early 2021. 

In addition to the compulsory recall of vehicles fitted with Takata PSAN airbags, eight vehicle manufacturers have also issued voluntary recalls for some vehicles manufactured between 1996 and 2000, which may have been fitted with a different type of faulty Takata airbag, being a NADI airbag. The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications monitors the NADI voluntary recalls.

Release number: 
252/20
ACCC Infocentre: 

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Media enquiries: 
Media Team - 1300 138 917, media@accc.gov.au

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