ACCC issues new Takata airbag warning over faulty replacements

Andrew Munro 24 July 2017 NEWS

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There may still be millions of deadly airbags on Australian roads.

The ACCC is urging drivers to check their airbags after recall issues relating to Takata-brand airbags have resurfaced.

A recall order was put out on vehicles with Takata airbags in 2009, after it emerged that they had a risk of ejecting shrapnel at drivers. Now, it turns out that some recalled cars were fitted with new Takata airbags that have the same problem. This comes after the death of a NSW man on 13 July, which was most likely caused by a faulty Takata airbag.

This problem can mean a minor accident turns fatal, and the ACCC is now urging all drivers to know whether or not their vehicle's airbag has been safely refitted.

An estimated 2.3 million cars in Australia are subject to the Takata Airbag recall, but to date only about 850,000 cars have been refitted due to a shortage of both stock and authorised technicians, and many of those will now need to be refitted yet again.

The ACCC recommends:

  • If you have not had your car airbag replaced: Check this list to see if your vehicle is subject to recall.
  • If you've already had your airbag replaced: Contact your car manufacturer to ask what kind of airbag it is and how long it's expected to last.

What's the problem with Takata?

The initial problem with Takata airbags is that they can degrade over time, and when they eventually deploy they might also fire off shrapnel at the vehicle occupants. The initial recall commenced in 2009 and took nearly a decade to complete. However, some car manufacturers simply replaced the faulty airbags with new Takata airbags that had been treated with a waterproofing chemical.

These waterproofed replacements are estimated to have a lifespan of around six years before they start degrading in a similar way, meaning that many of the airbags replaced in the first wave of recalls are now faulty, and will need to be replaced yet again.

Toyota, Mazda, BMW, Lexus, and Subaru have all among the car brands that have admitted to this issue, and between originally-faulty airbags and defective replacements, there might still be millions of cars with deadly airbags on Australian roads.

Make sure you know how to find and purchase a safe car if you're in the market.

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