Mandatory recall of Takata airbags announced


Nine car makers forced to recall cars, pushing the tally to 25 manufacturers replacing faulty airbags.


The information in this article was correct at time of publish, but is no longer being updated. For the latest on the Takata airbag recall, including the cars affected, please see The recall of Takata airbags: what Australians need to know.

  • Not all ACCC recommendations adopted, such as the right to a refund
  • Loan cars and tows will be made available
  • Death and injury tally continues to rise

The federal government has made the recall of Takata airbags compulsory, forcing the replacement of the faulty device in a remaining 2.3 million affected cars. Of those vehicles, 1.3 million still had not been voluntarily recalled by car makers including Ford, GM Holden and Volkswagen.

The announcement comes seven months after a CHOICE investigation revealed that recall efforts had stalled, with some manufacturers having repaired as little as 11% and 12% of affected cars.

The total number of cars affected in Australia is now at four million.

Is your car on the list? See the full list of vehicles affected by the Takata recall.

A mandatory recall was needed after car makers failed to adequately deal with the voluntary recall, says Michael Sukkar, assistant minister to the Treasurer.

"While almost one in five passenger vehicles on Australian roads have now been recalled, the voluntary recall process has not been effective in some cases, and some manufacturers have not taken satisfactory action to address the serious safety risk which arises after the airbags are more than six years old," he says.

"To ensure a coordinated recall, over the next two years manufacturers will be required to progressively identify their recalls and replace airbags in affected vehicles."

Many of the formal recommendations made by the ACCC have been dismissed by the government, including the right to a refund in certain cases and the prescription to fix within one month any airbags that are older than six years.

But consumers will be given rights under the compulsory recall. These include a loan car or taxi fare for customers who have to leave their car at a dealership for more than 24 hours.

Special provisions have also been made for the remaining 25,000 cars that are fitted with early "alpha" Takata airbags. Owners can request these cars be towed to the dealership or have a technician fix them on site.

Manufacturers will have to follow a strict schedule to have cars repaired. Cars in areas of high heat and humidity – factors that make the airbags break down quicker – are of the highest priority, followed by cars that are older than six years, and then cars with affected driver airbags.

The government has given manufacturers until July 2018 to publish a recall schedule and a searchable database, and all affected airbags are expected to be fixed as per Takata's timeline, by December 2020.

Takata airbags contain a chemical that turns volatile over time. Approximately 1-in-400 deployments results in metal shards being shot at drivers (or passengers) as the airbags deploy.

The odds of explosion are significantly higher for early versions of the airbags, known as 'alpha' versions. An earlier CHOICE investigation revealed these have a failure rate as high as one-in-two.

Meanwhile, the tally of victims continues to rise. It is understood 23 people worldwide have been killed by the airbags to date, with 230 people sustaining injuries as severe as blinding, paralysis and severed vocal chords.

In Australia, a 21-year-old woman was hospitalised in serious condition for months, and a 58-year-old man was tragically killed.

The events that led to a mandatory recall

These are the stories we published leading up to the mandatory recall of the Takata airbag. They contain the facts and figures known at the time. 

For the latest information, please see The Takata airbag recall – what Australians need to know.

Refunds, quicker repairs, a tow and loan cars will have to be provided by car manufacturers to the drivers affected by the Takata airbag recall based on a draft compulsory recall notice released by the federal government.

The proposal to make the recall mandatory comes as eight car makers – in addition to the 14 already implicated – failed to voluntarily recall more than 800,000 cars that are also fitted with the potentially fatal airbags.

Yesterday afternoon Michael McCormack, the Federal Minister of Small Business, put into motion the steps needed to introduce a compulsory recall of Takata airbags, a product safety scandal that has grown to affect 2.49 million cars in Australia since 2009.

"Today the Australian government is taking further action to ensure the safety of Australian consumers and safety on our roads," says Minister McCormack, though the proposal remains a draft and could still be dismissed.

The right to a tow, a loan car or a refund

The actions proposed in the draft recall notice, if they were to come into effect, would see the time people have to wait for a replacement airbag slashed, arrangements made for a tow, the issuing of loan vehicles and car refunds being offered based on the current market value.

The fault with Takata airbags, which have killed 19 people globally and injured 207 people in the US alone, develops over time. A customer's right to a loan car, tow or refund would depend on the type of airbag and its age.

The most dangerous variant of the airbag, "alpha" inflators, will have to be replaced within one day of a customer contacting a car maker for a repair. A tow truck will have to be dispatched to take the car to the dealership, or a qualified technician will have to replace the airbag on site. And if it takes more than 24 hours for these airbags to be replaced, an acceptable loan car will have to be provided. Otherwise, the customer will be entitled to a refund.

Alpha airbags sustained a number of defects when they were being manufactured and are between 11 and 18 years old. These airbags were found to be responsible for eight-out-of-the-ten fatalities caused by Takata airbags in the US, as of June 2017. "The risk [of a misfire] is immediate," the draft mandatory notice warns. And the failure rate of these airbags –
found in cars offered by Honda, Toyota, Lexus, BMW, Nissan and Mazda – is as high as 50%.

There's 877,000 cars fitted with Takata airbags that have not yet been voluntarily recalled by eight other car makers

But alpha inflators only account for 50,134 of the remaining 1.5 million cars recalled that have not yet been repaired. Whether the remaining "beta" airbags will be repaired within a month depends if they are more than five years old.

Testing has found Takata airbags turn dangerous at the earliest when they are six years old. Airbags that are five or older will have to be fixed within one month after a driver contacts their car maker. If the actual repair takes more than a day, or the car maker can't schedule the repair within one month, they will then have to provide a loan car or offer to reimburse travel costs, and if they cannot provide either, give those customers who ask a refund of their car.

All other Takata airbags will have to be repaired before they turn six years old or before 31 December 2020 – whichever comes first. Car makers have until the date set in the draft recall notices issued to customers to sort out the repairs. 

The case for a mandatory (compulsory) recall

Six months was the common wait time for customers to have their cars fixed under the recall, but CHOICE has come across dozens of cases where people were waiting a year or even two. Car makers were (and still are) swapping defective Takata airbags with identical replacements, as CHOICE revealed in its investigation, and they were not telling customers these dangerous substitutes will also need to be recalled. The recall notices issued to customers were often jargon-laden and tended to understate the risks of injury or death; some didn't disclose the fatal risks altogether. The NSW man who was killed by a Takata airbag in July did not answer any of the five recall notices mailed to him by Honda.

"The suppliers of the recalled vehicles with Takata airbag inflators...have not taken satisfactory action to prevent these goods causing injury...despite the lengthy period which voluntary recalls have been in place," the draft mandatory notice says.

It fired with such force that a piece of metal 5cm long was found on the roof of a nearby building

There are 2.49 million cars from 14 manufacturers affected by the recall of Takata airbags, as of August 2017. Honda, which started the recall in 2009 and is the car brand with the highest Takata fatality rate, has the highest completion rate at 78.3%. But the industry's recall efforts as a whole have lingered, with an average completion rate of 38.5%. The major car maker with the lowest repair rate has only fixed 17% of its affected cars.

And this does not include the 877,000 cars fitted with Takata airbags that have not yet been voluntarily recalled by eight other car makers. Ford, Audi, Jaguar, Volkswagen, GM Holden, Porsche, Mercedes Benz and Tesla have cars sold in Australia fitted with these airbags, but have not launched recall campaigns because these airbags were manufactured in Germany. This is despite six of these airbags rupturing from August 2016 to May 2017, in countries that include Italy, Spain, Portugal and Turkey.

The affected car models offered by the eight car makers are not yet known, CHOICE understands, as information on the recall is still being compiled by government authorities.

More airbag misfires, more deaths and more serious injuries

The number of people killed and injured by Takata airbags has continued to rise. There have been 19 documented deaths globally and 207 injuries in the US alone. "Many of the incidents involving a fatality have occurred at a low speed," the report says, "and due to the nature of the injuries, first responders have thought vehicle occupants had been shot or stabbed due to the shrapnel wounds". 

Australia is one of three countries where a Takata airbag misfire caused a fatality, after the United States and Malaysia. The tally of victims is likely to be under-reported because first responders and investigators might not trace the injuries and fatalities back to the airbag in a serious crash. The serious injuries so far linked to the airbag scandal include the loss of eyesight, facial injuries, lacerations to the face, neck and body, severed vocal cords, spinal damage and head injuries that include brain damage.

A third (and previously unreported) airbag rupture happened in Australia in the year before the first local injury and death. In September 2016, an airbag from a BMW was being safely disposed of when it misfired. It fired with such force that a piece of metal 5cm long was found on the roof of a nearby building. Fortunately, no one was hurt – or worse.

Any of these recommendations – made by the dedicated ACCC task force – could be ditched. Sign our petition to let the government know you support this recall.

Car makers will have to locate and destroy Takata airbags that have been removed from cars to be sold both at wreckers and online. A database tracking the airbags will have to be established, and car makers will have to put into place processes to sort out disputes with unhappy customers. Template communication drafted by the government will have to be used by car makers – and they won't be allowed to soften the language.

The draft notice doesn't guarantee a mandatory recall and any of these recommendations – made by the dedicated ACCC task force – could be ditched. Car makers and other stakeholders have 10 days to write to the ACCC in an effort to hold a conference on the proposals. Then, in the "coming months", a final recommendation will be made by the competition watchdog to Federal Minister McCormack, where it will be determined if a mandatory recall will take effect.

At least eight car manufacturers who have cars fitted with Takata airbags in Australia have not voluntarily recalled them, even though they have been recalled in overseas markets.

The revelation was among many featured in the draft mandatory recall notice issued this afternoon by Michael McCormack, Minister for Small Business, upon the recommendation of the ACCC investigative task force.

Ford, Audi, Jaguar, Volkswagen, GM Holden, Porsche, Mercedes Benz and Tesla have cars sold in Australia fitted with dangerous Takata airbags, but the car makers have not issued recalls on the basis of where they were manufactured.

This means approximately 877,000 vehicles sold by these car makers are fitted with airbags that rely on a volatile chemical (ammonium nitrate) that has a documented track record of decaying over time.

The car makers claim the airbags were manufactured to more stringent standards in a factory based in Freiburg, Germany, and that none of those airbags have ruptured in their cars.

But the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which has taken a leading effort in dealing with the recall, reports there have been six documented cases of the German-manufactured airbags rupturing from August 2016 to May 2017, in countries that include Italy, Spain, Portugal and Turkey.

The flaw these airbags sustained is inherent to its design, the NHTSA claims, regardless of where the airbags were manufactured.

The models affected by the eight carmakers are not yet known, CHOICE understands, as information on the recall is still being compiled.

The number of vehicles being recalled has steadily increased to 2.5 million; this is equivalent to one-in-eight Australian cars being recalled.

It is estimated 950,000 of these cars have been repaired, giving the industry a completion rate of 38.5%.

The revelation was made before a House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics yesterday afternoon.

A mandatory recall would allow the federal government to define how car makers handle the recall, give the ACCC the power to issue penalties and treat breaches as criminal offences.

It could also result in cars no longer being fitted with Takata airbags – even the revised iterations that are being used as replacements – if a court deems they are potentially faulty.

Takata has until 2019 to prove replacement airbags containing a drying agent are safe for use in the long term. If it cannot, these airbags will need to be recalled too.

The ACCC revealed it anticipates to make a recommendation based on its findings to federal minister Michael McCormack on whether a mandatory recall is necessary next month, but the timing could be delayed if some carmakers are granted more time to provide the competition watchdog with an update.

"Our main purpose is to get those airbags out of those cars," says Timothy Grimwade of the ACCC, who is overseeing the eight-person task force investigating the recall. "We're also looking to see if there's been any misleading behaviour."

The ACCC asked car makers for an update on the recall on 24 July. Some of the carmakers have asked for an extension. If the ACCC denies their requests, the carmakers will have to provide the ACCC with answers by 23 August. 

The questions aim to clarify the types of airbags being used as replacements in the recall, the progress made by each car maker, how long customers are having to wait for a repair and what customers are being told.

Drivers affected by the recall are receiving one of three replacement airbags. Currently a revised version of a Takata airbag that features a drying agent is being used, as well as airbags from other manufacturers. CHOICE understands identical replacements of the defective airbags – which were carried out by Honda, Toyota, Lexus, Mazda, BMW and Subaru – are no longer being used.

Carmakers claim there is now enough replacement stock to carry out repairs, but early indications from the ACCC's investigation suggest otherwise.

"We're still receiving complaints and reports that consumers are having to wait for their airbag replacement on the basis that there isn't enough stock," says Grimwade.

Car owners are commonly facing wait times of six months, though they tend to be worse for people living in regional Australia.

Concerns have been raised about the information that affected drivers are receiving from car makers about the recall. "What does concern us is the communication that is being provided to consumers," says Grimwade, "because it appears to be none."

This week CHOICE revealed cars from Honda, BMW, Toyota, Lexus and Nissan still had an early version of Takata airbags installed, for which the risk of a rupture was as high as one-in-two. The 50,000 affected drivers had no way of knowing if their car contained these 'alpha' inflators.

The lack of communication is a particular concern for drivers who had the defective airbag in their car replaced with an identical, defective model, as they may ignore future recall notices thinking they have already fixed the problem.

Correction, 22 August: An earlier version of this article attributed a quote to Rod Sims, chair of the ACCC. Sims was present and spoke on the issue; however, the quote concerning a lack of communication from carmakers was said by Timothy Grimwade, the ACCC representative leading the task force.

Vehicles from Toyota, Lexus, BMW, Honda, Mazda and Nissan have alpha versions of Takata inflators installed in more than two dozen car models widely sold in Australia, an ongoing CHOICE investigation has found.

These alpha versions of Takata inflators have a significantly higher chance of shattering when an airbag deploys. Testing has found approximately 1-in-400 Takata inflators can crack, but with early alpha versions, the possibility of an airbag rupture can be as high as 1-in-2.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a US safety body that has taken a leading role in the worldwide recall of Takata airbags, issued a "critical warning" in June 2016 on alpha inflators. 

"The air bag inflators in these particular vehicles contain a manufacturing defect which greatly increases the potential for dangerous rupture when a crash causes the air bag to deploy. Testing of the inflators from these vehicles show rupture rates as high as 50 percent in a laboratory setting."

Out of the ten fatalities linked to Takata airbags in the US, eight were caused by alpha inflators, the NHTSA revealed in June 2017.

Cracks, abrasions and scratches were found on 30% of them, while 10% sustained 'severe damage'...

Manufacturers in Australia have recalled 155,490 vehicles due to these inflators, but since the first cars were recalled in 2009, our ongoing investigation found a third of them remain unrepaired.

And the remaining 50,134 Australian car owners won't be told their vehicles have alpha inflators installed, even though car makers have been aware of the increased risks for at least a year.

The Australian arms of Honda, Toyota, Lexus, BMW, Mazda and Nissan haven't mentioned alpha inflators (or PSDI inflators, as they are technically known) on company websites, dedicated recall sites or news sites. The recall notices posted on Product Safety Australia don't detail the higher risks of an airbag rupture; some don't even recognise the potential risk of death. Nor have these companies issued media releases in an effort to reach the remaining owners.

The dangers of an alpha inflator rupturing are so high that Honda US, upon being warned of the increased failure rate by the NHTSA, is offering its customers a service unavailable to those in Australia.

"Honda [US] will provide free alternative transportation during the necessary repairs, and, if the owner is either unable or uncomfortable driving the vehicle in for repair, the company will tow the vehicle for free to the nearest authorized dealer," the company writes in a fact sheet.

Car manufacturers contacted by CHOICE confirmed loan vehicles were only available on a "case by case basis" – a term used by more than one car maker on the issue. But when CHOICE mystery shopped Honda Australia's dedicated call centre, enquiring about an Accord manufactured in 2001 (a car known to have alpha inflators and therefore considered dangerous to drive) a customer service representative told us: "Honda doesn't provide a national loan car program, Sir."

Takata's airbags degrade over time and its alpha inflators are its oldest, aged 11 to 18 years. The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, which has overseen the recall of of Takata airbags in Australia since 2009, has recalled 100% of alpha inflators.

"Replacement of the airbags categorised as alpha has been prioritised and affected vehicle owners have been sent a number of letters regarding the recall of their vehicle," a spokesperson for the federal government body tells CHOICE.

"The department strongly recommends that affected vehicle owners arrange for the airbag in their vehicle to be replaced as soon as possible by undertaking the actions outlined in the letters from the relevant vehicle manufacturer," the spokesperson adds.

The warning follows Australia's first Takata-related fatality, A 58-year-old NSW man who had received five recall notices from Honda.

...he urged drivers to get these airbags replaced without delay and warned: 'minor accidents may have tragic outcomes.'

Industry stakeholders will describe the problem with alpha inflators as an undisclosed 'manufacturing defect', but the high failure rate of these airbags is the culmination of several faults. Late in 2009, after being commissioned by Takata, the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology requested 60 alpha inflators for testing. Cracks, abrasions and scratches were found on 30% of them, while 10% sustained "severe damage" to the ammonium nitrate tablets used to inflate them.

Fraunhofer hypothesised alpha inflators "promote" moisture, which is widely believed to cause Takata airbags to degrade over time, but the tablets were a bigger worry: "they could make the booster propellant more energetic and could adversely affect ballistics."

How often alpha inflators rupture in Toyota, Lexus, Nissan, Mazda and BMW vehicles remains unknown. Testing of 245,000 Takata airbags found 0.27% (or 660 of them) ruptured upon deployment, while Honda confirmed the failure rate of its alpha inflators can be as high as 50%. For the remaining 50,134 vehicles still driving unrepaired in Australia, the rate of failure could be anywhere in between.

Takata would not comment on the record regarding the increased risk posed by alpha inflators when asked by CHOICE. A contact in Takata's home country of Japan, who has direct knowledge of the situation, acknowledged these inflators pose an increased risk. They do share the same core technology, but there are variations in how they have been installed in different cars. He urged drivers to get these airbags replaced without delay and warned: "minor accidents may have tragic outcomes."

takata alpha inflators

Click here for a text-only accessible version of this infographic.

The recall of 2.3 million vehicles for Takata airbags in Australia has proven to be a logistical nightmare. A parts shortage, retrofitting issues and the availability of authorised technicians has resulted in typical wait times of six months. Since the recall started with two-thousand Honda vehicles in 2009, and then widened to include additional car manufacturers in 2013, 850,000 airbags have been repaired. There are still 1.6 million cars waiting to be repaired under the recall, which isn't expected to be finished until 2020.

Manufacturers struggled for years with a parts shortage and, as CHOICE revealed last month, car makers resorted to making like-for-like replacements of defective recalled airbags, in some cases. Owners of cars from Mazda, Toyota, BMW, Lexus, Subaru and Honda were not told they received an identical replacement. There are concerns the owners of these cars will ignore future recall notices thinking they have already had their airbag repaired.

CHOICE understands like-for-like replacements are no longer being carried out in Australia. People affected by the recall who take their car in for a repair will either receive an airbag from another manufacturer, or a Takata airbag fitted with a "desiccant"; that is, a drying agent intended to fend off the moisture that causes these airbags to breakdown. The NHTSA issued a warning to Takata in late 2016: if it cannot prove the revised airbags are safe by 2019, then it will need to recall them too.

Help us make products safer: sign our petition to demand stronger consumer protection law.

Update I: The Product Safety Australia site has since added tags denoting the cars fitted with alpha inflators. This followed the publication of our article.

Update II: The article has been updated to include references to Mazda, which recently disclosed that alpha inflators are installed in its cars. The number of alpha airbags recalled and the number of them repaired have also been updated, making them accurate as of 21 September.

Update III: Australians driving a car with an alpha inflator are entitled to special concessions under the compulsory Takata airbag recall. This includes having the car towed to dealerships, or even having a technician replace the airbag on site.

Revelations of car makers swapping recalled Takata airbags with identical, defective replacements have sparked an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The action comes less than 24 hours after CHOICE shared findings from a protracted investigation that found car makers are struggling to cope with the recall in Australia, resorting to the like-for-like replacement of defective airbags in an effort to lower the risk of injury or death.

Honda, BMW, Subaru, Toyota and Lexus are among the car companies that confirmed to CHOICE they are making like-for-like replacements of defective Takata airbags, with many other manufacturers declining to share this information with the public.

"We would have very serious concerns if manufacturers were found to be misleading consumers about their car's safety in breach of their obligations under consumer law," says Rod Sims, the chair of the ACCC.

"Car manufacturers and retailers must let consumers know when they are having their car's airbag replaced, what type of airbag it is being replaced with, and if it is likely to be the subject of another recall down the track," he adds.

Help us make products safer: sign our petition to demand stronger consumer protection law.

The death of a 58-year-old Australian on 13 June was linked to a defective Takata airbag, while a 21-year-old woman was sent to Royal Darwin Hospital for more than two months after the Takata airbag in her car shot a piece of metal at her face.

These incidents contribute to the growing number of 180 injuries and 18 deaths caused by the airbags, which harm the very drivers and passengers they are designed to protect.

The ACCC is "urgently seeking" information from the government body overseeing the recall, the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, and from more than a dozen car manufacturers affected by the recall.

Approximately 2.3 million vehicles are affected in Australia as the airbags have been fitted in almost sixty models of cars, including those sold by Honda, Toyota, BMW, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Lexus, Jeep, Nissan, Chrysler, Dodge, Ferrari and Mazda.

It is estimated more than 850,000 vehicles have had their airbags replaced since 2009. 

The worldwide recall of a hundred-million Takata airbags has proven to be a logistical nightmare. A parts shortage, retrofitting issues and the availability of authorised technicians able to fit the airbags has resulted in the recall spreading over years.

Recall letters seen by CHOICE suggest customers are being asked to wait six months for parts to be available. Takata estimates the recall won't be complete until 2020, claiming its bankruptcy filing will have little impact on it meeting the deadline.

The ACCC claims car manufacturers now have sufficient stock to fix affected cars, however more vehicles will be added to the growing list of those recalled.

In the three months since CHOICE began investigating Takata airbags in April 2017, approximately 250,000 additional cars have been fitted with replacement airbags, though a further 200,000 were recalled by manufacturers.

Little awareness of the Takata recall – which in Australia, affects 21 times more vehicles than the VW dieselgate scandal – has meant many people aren't taking their cars to manufacturers upon being told parts for their car are available.

Of the 2.3 million cars recalled, replacement airbags have been installed in 34%.

The fault with Takata airbags is believed to develop over a period of time due to exposure to moisture. Some replacement airbags have been treated with a drying agent, known as desiccant, but these too may degrade, requiring an additional recall for the airbags.

"If consumers have already had their airbag replaced, they should contact their manufacturer for advice as to what kind of airbag it was replaced with and how long it is expected to last," says Sims.

Revelations of car makers swapping recalled Takata airbags with identical, defective replacements have sparked an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The action comes less than 24 hours after CHOICE shared findings from a protracted investigation that found car makers are struggling to cope with the recall in Australia, resorting to the like-for-like replacement of defective airbags in an effort to lower the risk of injury or death.

Honda, BMW, Subaru, Toyota and Lexus are among the car companies that confirmed to CHOICE they are making like-for-like replacements of defective Takata airbags, with many other manufacturers declining to share this information with the public.

"We would have very serious concerns if manufacturers were found to be misleading consumers about their car's safety in breach of their obligations under consumer law," says Rod Sims, the chair of the ACCC.

"Car manufacturers and retailers must let consumers know when they are having their car's airbag replaced, what type of airbag it is being replaced with, and if it is likely to be the subject of another recall down the track," he adds.

Help us make products safer: sign our petition to demand stronger consumer protection law.

The death of a 58-year-old Australian on 13 June was linked to a defective Takata airbag, while a 21-year-old woman was sent to Royal Darwin Hospital for more than two months after the Takata airbag in her car shot a piece of metal at her face.

These incidents contribute to the growing number of 180 injuries and 18 deaths caused by the airbags, which harm the very drivers and passengers they are designed to protect.

The ACCC is "urgently seeking" information from the government body overseeing the recall, the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, and from more than a dozen car manufacturers affected by the recall.

Approximately 2.3 million vehicles are affected in Australia as the airbags have been fitted in almost sixty models of cars, including those sold by Honda, Toyota, BMW, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Lexus, Jeep, Nissan, Chrysler, Dodge, Ferrari and Mazda.

It is estimated more than 850,000 vehicles have had their airbags replaced since 2009. 

The worldwide recall of a hundred-million Takata airbags has proven to be a logistical nightmare. A parts shortage, retrofitting issues and the availability of authorised technicians able to fit the airbags has resulted in the recall spreading over years.

Recall letters seen by CHOICE suggest customers are being asked to wait six months for parts to be available. Takata estimates the recall won't be complete until 2020, claiming its bankruptcy filing will have little impact on it meeting the deadline.

The ACCC claims car manufacturers now have sufficient stock to fix affected cars, however more vehicles will be added to the growing list of those recalled.

In the three months since CHOICE began investigating Takata airbags in April 2017, approximately 250,000 additional cars have been fitted with replacement airbags, though a further 200,000 were recalled by manufacturers.

Little awareness of the Takata recall – which in Australia, affects 21 times more vehicles than the VW dieselgate scandal – has meant many people aren't taking their cars to manufacturers upon being told parts for their car are available.

Of the 2.3 million cars recalled, replacement airbags have been installed in 34%.

The fault with Takata airbags is believed to develop over a period of time due to exposure to moisture. Some replacement airbags have been treated with a drying agent, known as desiccant, but these too may degrade, requiring an additional recall for the airbags.

"If consumers have already had their airbag replaced, they should contact their manufacturer for advice as to what kind of airbag it was replaced with and how long it is expected to last," says Sims.

An investigation into a car accident that left a young woman seriously injured has revealed she is the first Australian casualty of a faulty Takata airbag, a product currently part of the largest recall in automotive history.

The 21-year-old woman was involved in an accident in Darwin on 24 April. Her defective airbag malfunctioned when it deployed, projecting a fragment of metal into her head, says Police Sergeant Mark Casey of the Major Crash Investigation Unit.

"This type of crash, in normal circumstances, would not have caused this level of injury.

"Investigations have revealed the vehicle was the subject of a worldwide recall for faulty airbag manufacture in 2015," says Sergeant Casey.

A hundred million vehicles are part of the worldwide Takata airbag recall – with 2.1 million of them based in Australia – affecting all sorts of cars, from a $15,000 Honda Jazz to a $426,000 Ferrari California.

The airbags have inflators known to rupture and, in reported cases, project shards of metal at the very occupants they are intended to protect.

Takata airbags have contributed to 17 confirmed deaths worldwide and have injured an estimated 160 people.

"Prior to this crash there were no reported deaths or injuries in Australia in relation to this fault," says Sergeant Casey.

Police are urging people to check if their car has a faulty Takata airbag on the ACCC website, as the recall affects models from BMW, Chrysler, Ferrari, Ford, Honda, Jeep, Lexus, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota.

"If they own one of the vehicles mentioned and have not received or acted on the recall notice, please do so as soon as possible."

More than 50 million vehicles are now being recalled worldwide, including at least half a million affected cars in Australia. 

When the recall began in the US in December 2014, there were 14 million recalled. At the time it was reported that at least 139 people had been injured, while at least six people had died as a result of the airbag fault. There have been no reported injuries or deaths in Australia.

Cars from Toyota, Honda, Chrysler, and Nissan are currently being recalled in Australia.

The Australian Government's recalls site has details of how Australian vehicles are affected. After some technical issues, it seems to be up and running again at the time of writing, although it is slow.

At the time of writing, the recall affects these cars sold in Australia:

• Chrysler 300C sedan 2006 to 2007
• Honda Jazz 2004 to 2009
• Honda Accord Euro 2004 to 2007
• Honda CR-V 2002 to 2008
• Honda Civic 2004 to 2005
• Nissan N16 Pulsar
• Nissan D22 Navara
• Nissan Y61 Patrol
• Nissan T30 X-TRAIL
• Nissan A33 Maxima
• Toyota Echo 2003 to 2005
• Toyota RAV4 2003 to 2005
• Toyota Corolla 2003 to 2007
• Toyota Yaris 2005 to 2007
• Toyota Avensis 2003 to 2007

Updates continue to be posted on recalls.gov.au – check back periodically if you believe your car may be affected.


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