THE Federal Government has issued an urgent warning for a specific type of Takata airbag that is already subject to the worldwide recall, however consumer advocacy group CHOICE says a mandatory recall is needed.
The ‘Alpha’-model airbags, which have been found to rupture in 1-in-2 cases in laboratory testing, compared to 1-in-400 for other models, are still in more than 50,000 cars in Australia built between 2001 and 2004.
The Federal Government’s Product Safety Australia recalls website has updated its Takata airbag section to mark models with the Alpha bags, to “take immediate steps to have the airbags replaced because of a significant risk of injury or death involved in the use of the vehicles with these airbags.
This compares to the other recalled Takata airbags which come with advice to have them replaced “as soon as possible”.
The urgent recall comes more than a year after a critical warning was issued in the US on Alpha inflators which were responsible for eight of the 10 fatalities there linked to Takata airbags.
It comes in response to a Choice report which highlighted the significantly increased danger posed by the Alpha inflators, which were installed in 150,400 Australian cars built by BMW, Honda, Lexus, Nissan and Toyota.
Of these, more than a third, or 51,136 cars, has to have new airbags installed despite the recall having been in action for four years and, in Honda’s case, since 2009.
A statement to Wheels from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, which oversees Product Safety Australia, said the Takata recall has been updated to identify the recalls that include vehicles fitted with higher risk inflators that are referred to as ‘Alpha’ bags.
“Vehicle owners can contact the ACCC Information Centre on 1300 302 502 if they have concerns about information provided to them by manufacturers and dealers regarding the recall.”
However, CHOICE believes the government should issue a mandatary recall of all cars fitted with the Alpha inflators and force the affected carmakers to do more to assist customers such as provide towing and a hire car, like Honda does in the US.
A CHOICE spokesman told Wheels it’s unacceptable that so many of these potentially fatal airbags are still on Australian roads and that a mandatory recall is necessary as it’s clear that car companies can’t be trusted to relay accurate information to customers and institute repairs in a timely manner.
Cars with 'Alpha' Takata airbags installed between 2001-04
- BMW 316i, 318i, 320i/320ci, 325i/325ci, 330i/330ci, M3, M3 CSL
- Honda Accord, Accord Euro, Civic, CR-V, Jazz, MDX
- Lexus SC430
- Nissan Maxima, Navara, Patrol, Pulsar sedan and hatch, X-Trail
- Toyota Avensis, Corolla, Echo, RAV4
If you own one of these cars contact your nearest dealer or check the recalls section on their company websites to check if your airbag needs replacing.
Vehicle owners can contact the ACCC Information Centre on 1300 302 502 if they have concerns about information provided to them by manufacturers and dealers regarding the recall.