In February 2018, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) took the unprecedented step of mandating a recall of those cars affected with faulty Takata airbags. Check out the regulation for more information and to find out what it all means.
What’s the Takata airbag risk?
There are millions of cars on Australian roads that currently have unsafe airbags. These airbags, produced by Takata, are already responsible for 23 fatalities and several hundred injuries around the world. When an affected airbag deploys, the inflator module may rupture causing metal fragments to strike the vehicle occupants. In addition to this, there is a subgroup of airbags called ‘alpha’ bags. These were installed in many cars up to 2007 and need immediate replacement. If your car has an alpha bag you should stop driving your vehicle and contact the manufacturer immediately.
What cars are affected?
Many cars are affected by this recall. Affected cars are still being identified and added to the list so it’s important to regularly check if your vehicle has been added.
Check whether your cars affected by the Takata airbag recall.
What to do if your car is involved
Contact your vehicle manufacturer to confirm if your vehicle is involved, or if it has already been recalled.
You’ll need to quote the 17 character Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) from the vehicle’s identification plate or registration papers. If your car is confirmed in the recall, your manufacturer will advise you on the next steps to take.
If you bought the car used, or have moved since you purchased the vehicle, contact the manufacturer to update your contact details and be kept informed of when your car is recalled.
The Takata airbag recall
When it comes time to replace your car’s airbags, the manufacturer will advise you in writing and you should make an appointment with a dealer of your choice as soon as possible. You won’t need to pay for any replacement air bags, regardless of whether you bought the car new or used.
If your vehicle is fitted with an “alpha” airbag the manufacturer is obliged to have the vehicle towed to a place of repair or send a technician to the vehicle .
What can you do if you need help getting your airbags replaced?
If you need help you can apply to the manufacturer for further assistance. You’ll qualify for additional help if you’re;
- have special needs.
Or if the vehicle is;
- located more than 250km from a place of repair
- on an island that does not have a suitable place of repair.
When can you get your airbag replaced?
Vehicle manufacturers are prioritising replacement for high risk airbags first. These include;
- “Alpha” bags
- airbags more than six years old
- airbags fitted to vehicles used in hot and humid environments (such as Northern Australia).
All remaining airbags will be recalled as soon as possible.
What happens if a recalled airbag is not replaced?
On November 1, 2018 the Queensland government warned owners of vehicles fitted with the very dangerous ALPHA type Takata airbags to have them repaired or risk having their registration suspended. Owners of affected vehicles would initially be issued with a defect notice requiring them to have the recall completed within 14 days. If the notice is ignored, registration will be suspended until repairs are completed. Allowance will be made for vehicles that cannot be repaired due to non-availability of parts etc.
Buying a new car with a Takata airbag
From 31 December 2018 dealers will not be able to sell a new vehicle fitted with an affected Takata airbag. If you bought an affected car before this date the seller must have fitted the vehicle with a label carrying a defined warning statement and a date the airbag will be replaced.
See Section 7 (8) of the regulation for further details.
Buying a used car with a Takata airbag
A dealer may not sell a vehicle that is under an active safety recall i.e. a recall letter has been issued.
If your vehicle is less than six years old and will be recalled in the future (i.e.an affected vehicle), the seller must notify you verbally and in writing that your car will need an airbag replacement.
If your car is more than six years old and will be subjected to a recall in the future, the seller must notify you verbally and in writing your car will need an airbag replacement. They must also request permission for your details to be passed to the vehicle manufacturer.
See Section 9 (4) of the regulation for further detail.
Buying a car through a private sale
Private vehicle sales are affected but there is no official obligation on the seller to notify the buyer. If you’ve bought a car through a private sale, check whether your new vehicle is on the recall list and contact the vehicle manufacturer to provide your contact details.
Buying a used import vehicle
The importer who first brings the vehicle to the Australian market is responsible for the recall. If the importer is no longer in business, owners of recalled vehicles should seek advice from the manufacturer in the vehicle’s country of origin i.e where it was sold new. It may ultimately become the owner’s responsibility to cover the replacement costs of the airbag.
Privately imported vehicles
It's possible a small number of privately imported vehicles are affected by this recall. In this case it’s recommended owners seek advice from the manufacturer in the vehicle’s country of origin.
Like for like replacements
Some airbags have already been replaced using airbags with the same technology. This is called like for like replacement.
These airbags will be recalled again in the future and be replaced with a different, safer airbag. Like for like replacement buys some time while a safer replacement is developed. There are no safety issues if the airbags are replaced within the critical six-year window.