The ACCC is urging drivers of vehicles with defective Takata airbags installed to check if their car is affected by the biggest global vehicle recall in history before driving long distances this summer.
The airbag’s inflator component deteriorates over time and may misdeploy when the airbag is triggered in an accident, causing metal fragments to propel out of the airbag towards the vehicle occupants. Around the world, there have been serious injuries and deaths from these faulty Takata airbags, including one death in Australia in July and a serious injury in April 2017.
Of particular concern, there are around 43,000 cars on Australian roads known to contain the most dangerous types of faulty airbags, called ‘alpha’ airbags. Takata alpha airbags have a manufacturing flaw, as they were not produced according to design standards and do not deploy as intended. These airbags pose the most severe risk of misdeploying during a car accident.
The higher risk alpha airbags were installed in some models of Honda, Toyota, Nissan, BMW, Mazda and Lexus cars, sold in Australia from around 2001 to around 2004.
“We urge drivers of vehicles with alpha airbags installed to immediately book in to have their airbags replaced before driving anywhere over the Christmas holiday period. There is a significant and much higher risk of injury or death involved in driving vehicles fitted with these alpha airbags,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
“As we approach the festive season, many of us are driving longer distances, so it is vital to act now to avoid a tragedy. If you have a car that contains an ‘alpha’ airbag, our advice is not to drive it until the airbag has been replaced.”
You can check on whether your vehicle has an alpha airbag installed at Product Safety Australia
Overall since 2009, more than 2.7 million vehicles in Australia with defective Takata airbags have been voluntarily recalled, including some models of vehicles manufactured by Honda, Toyota, BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Lexus, Ferrari and Nissan.
“If your vehicle has been recalled and it does not have an alpha airbag, it still needs to be replaced and you should contact your vehicle dealer or manufacturer to book in a time to have the defective Takata airbag replaced as soon as possible. Do not delay responding to a letter from your car’s manufacturer or retailer asking you to have your car’s airbag replaced,” Ms Rickard said.
More cars are being added to the list over time so it’s important to check regularly. The replacement is free for all affected consumers. Check if your car has been recalled at Product Safety Australia
On 5 August 2017, the Minister for Small Business, Michael McCormack, issued a Safety Warning Notice to warn consumers about the risks associated with Takata airbags, urging them to check if their vehicle is part of the recall, and if so to contact their car’s manufacturer immediately.
On 21 September 2017, Minister McCormack issued a Proposed Recall Notice for a compulsory recall of all vehicles with defective Takata airbags installed.
Following a supplier conference held after the issue of the Proposed Recall Notice, the ACCC is working on a recommendation to the Minister for Small Business on whether a compulsory recall notice for all vehicles with defective Takata airbags installed should be issued.
If the Minister decides to issue a compulsory recall notice, this could require manufacturers, not only to replace airbags in affected vehicles at no cost to consumers but could specify a number of other requirements, for instance, around timeframes, communications to consumers and advertising of the recall.
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