Hundreds of motorists in Western Australia – and thousands nationwide – have been warned to “stop driving immediately” and get their cars checked out due to a potentially deadly fault.
Nearly 200,000 vehicles across Australia are still fitted with faulty Takata airbags. Authorities have said more than 8000 of these cars are considered so dangerous they should not be driven at all.
When the airbags engage, tiny bits of metal can shear off at high speed injuring, sometimes fatally, the car’s occupants.
Globally there have been 29 deaths and over 320 serious injuries reported, including one death and one serious injury in Australia relating to airbags affected by the compulsory recall.
For years, car manufacturers have been pleading with motorists to get their Takata airbags tested.
According to the latest Australian Competition and Consumer Commission figures, the compulsory recall has seen 95 per cent of airbags checked. But that still leaves 228,000 faulty airbags in more than 196,000 vehicles.
Earlier this week, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FACI) in Western Australia said vehicle owners and their passengers were being unnecessarily exposed to the risk of death or injury because they hadn’t replaced the bags.
FACI chief executive officer Tony Weber said there were 608 airbags in Western Australia of the critical Alpha and critical non-Alpha type.
“These are the worst of the worst. They have been declared critical for a very important reason – they are high-risk and can kill vehicle drivers and occupants. Any vehicle with critical Alpha or critical non-Alpha type airbags should not be driven at all.”
Mr Weber said it was alarming so many owners of vehicles representing such a significant public safety risk had not arranged to have the faulty airbags replaced. They also risked the cancellation of their vehicle registrations.
“This is not a story about one or two lost vehicles in Australia. We are talking about hundreds of vehicles – some of them with more than one faulty airbag. There would be a traffic jam if they all descended on St George’s Terrace, Perth.”
Earlier this month, the ACCC extended the Takata recall airbags fitted with a NADI 5-AT propellant.
These were not part of the original recall with the ACCC urging drivers of cars fitted with the bags that were manufactured between May 1995 and August 1999 and installed in some vehicles with dates of manufacture between 1996 and 2000 to get them checked.
ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said there were still more than 8000 cars in Australia fitted with airbags considered so dangerous they should not be driven at all.
“Even during this pandemic, replacing faulty airbags is an essential and potentially lifesaving task, especially as vehicles are maybe being used by essential workers and caregivers.
“It will also be more important than ever that as more people start to use their cars again, they check that their airbags are safe.
“Vehicles with critical airbags should not be driven. Please contact your dealer to arrange for your vehicle to be towed to the place of repair free of charge so you do not have to drive it,” she said.
On a national basis, the industry has rectified 2.64 million vehicles with 3.61 million faulty Takata airbags.