Takata airbags trigger unprecedented recall

Delia Watkins
March 2, 2018

The Federal Government has today announced a new, compulsory recall of 2.3 million cars affected by the defective Takata airbags.

Since 2017 vehicle manufacturers have been recalling cars fitted with Japanese-manufactured Takata airbags on a voluntary basis but the recall has now been made mandatory after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) made the formal recommendation to the federal government.

The airbags have been associated with 20 deaths globally, including one death in Australia past year.

The Takata airbag's inflator contains a chemical compound which deteriorates over time.

"The compulsory recall will force manufacturers, importers, dealers and other suppliers to ensure that all unsafe Takata airbags are located and replaced as soon as possible", Sukkar said. The voluntary recalls sought to replace affected Takata airbags in recalled vehicles.

The compulsory recall applies to all vehicles that are subject to existing Takata voluntary recalls, and approximately 1.3million additional vehicles that have not been voluntarily recalled.

Kiwis with a faulty brand of airbag in their vehicles are being urged to get them replaced immediately.

Officials said the affected airbags must be replaced by the end of 2020.

Last year, the ACCC issued a voluntary recall on the 60 types of cars sold in Australia that used the faulty airbags.

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For example, if you own a Toyota Corolla MY 2010, this vehicle is on the list. Of note, too, is that there are more recalls to come as Takata airbags reach the age where they too start showing symptoms that they are at risk of failing.

Currently, around 89,000 alpha airbags have been replaced and there are still around 25,000 yet to be replaced.

Globally, ruptures of defective Takata airbags have been associated with at least 23 deaths and 230 injuries.

A dealer is not a supplier for the purposes of the compulsory recall obligations, but a supplier may use its dealer network to perform some of the actions required by the compulsory recall (such as replacement of the Takata airbag).

Speaking at the same news conference, the commission's chairman Rod Sims stressed that not all Takata air bags are unsafe "right now". "It's critical they get replaced".

Some cars have already been voluntarily recalled by manufacturers, with Wednesday's action concerning those that have yet to be fixed.

"For most consumers, the fundamental obligation is that, if, when you take your vehicle in to get it replaced and you can't get it back out of there within 24 hours, you are entitled to a loan auto or hire vehicle", he said. "That design fault will materialise over time", he said.

Sims said the advice the ACCC gave to the government suggesting the compulsory recall came from an investigation in August previous year looking at how the voluntary program was progressing.

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