THE owner of a Honda CR-V who died in what is believed to be the first Australian death linked to the Takata airbag recall had received five letters from the carmaker urging him to have the airbag replaced.
Honda Australia has revealed it had made multiple attempts to contact the car’s owner, who died after a piece of metal became lodged in his neck after the CR-V’s airbags, the subject of a global recall, fired in a crash in Sydney last week.
Speaking to the media yesterday, Honda Australia director Stephen Collins said five notifications were sent over a 16-month period leading up to the crash, but were unheeded by the owner.
The message from the company is clear: don’t delay if your car is on the list of affected vehicles.
“This is of a scale that we and the industry has never seen before, and our goal is to track down and get every inflator replaced as soon as possible,” Collins said.
The Japanese carmaker has tried to reach out to customers through mail, phone calls, text messages, email and, in a small number of cases, a physical visit by a company representative.
A total of 650,379 airbag inflators installed in Honda vehicles have been subject to the on-going recall, with about 70 percent already replaced. Honda says about 193,000 vehicles have yet to book in for airbag replacements – a process that takes between 30 and 50 minutes and is free of charge.
“We have 105,000 replacement inflators in stock, covering all of the recalled [vehicles], and in the next four to five weeks we have another 34,000 inflators on their way” Collins said.
“So the call we’re putting out is for those customers to come in and get the work done… our message is that regardless of make or model, we need customers to check their VIN numbers and act on recall notices.”
Honda is replacing about 5000 inflators a week, but had previously achieved a peak rate of 10,000 a week. Even at its peak rate, replacing all of the remaining affected cars would take the company about five months.
Honda isn’t the only manufacturer affected. Other makes involved in the recall include Toyota, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Jeep, Nissan, Chrysler, Dodge, BMW and Lexus, with the total tally of brands topping out at 60. To check if your car is affected, head here.
The Takata recall is believed to involve 31 million cars worldwide. At least 11 fatalities linked to faulty Takata airbags have been recorded in the US, along with more than 180 injuries.
The Sydney death is believed to be the first Australian fatality linked to the recall. A Darwin woman was seriously injured by shrapnel in April after the recalled airbag misfired in her Toyota RAV4 after a relatively mild crash.
Honda has confirmed that no new inflators being installed by the company are supplied by Takata, and that all new cars sold by it in Australia are not equipped with Takata airbags.