CAR makers have resorted to hiring private detectives to track down vehicles with potentially deadly airbags — but owners continue to ignore recall notices.
Some car companies are doorstopping customers to advise them of the danger but have been turned away, with some people demanding they not be contacted again.
Car makers say the level of response to the recall of 2.3 million cars in Australia has been frustratingly low, with only 850,000 cars fixed so far.
They say part of the problem is that some of the older cars affected by the recall are 20 years old and may have changed hands two or three times in the period.
Ironically, it is these cars have airbags that are most in need of repair, as they are more likely to have corroded components that have been known to explode when the airbags deploy, sending deadly shrapnel through the cabin.
At least 18 people have been killed worldwide by the airbags, including a NSW man who police say was fatally injured by flying shrapnel from his Honda CR-V’s airbag.
Carmakers are bound to inform affected customers via mail as soon as they file a recall notice with the government.
TAKATA AIRBAG RECALL: Death in Australia prompts fresh warnings
If the response level is deemed to be too low, a second letter must be sent and another round of advertising could be required.
Some major brands have replaced little more than 10 per cent of the affected cars.
Honda spokesperson Neil McDonald said the company was doing all it could to reach as many customers as possible.
“We are urging everyone who has received a recall notice to contact us immediately,” he said.
National Roads and Motorists’ Association spokesman Peter Khoury said the recall was free of charge even if the car was second hand and out of warranty.
“Even if you’ve bought a used car, you’re still entitled to have the recall work completed free of charge,” he said.
“We can’t have the public ignoring these recalls, they’re very serious.”
He said concerned buyers could check the recalls.gov.au website or go to the manufacturer websites and type in their VIN to see if their car is affected.
He criticised some car makers for not telling customers they were replacing faulty airbags with the same model.
“Car makers need to be more transparent with customers about exactly what airbag they are putting in and if the car needs to have that airbag replaced again at a later date.”
In a statement released on Monday, The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries said a full list of affected vehicles can be found on the FCAI website or via www.productsafety.gov.au.
“While more than 850,000 affected vehicles in Australia have been rectified, there still remains a large number which have not been campaigned. It remains the industry’s steadfast resolve to get in contact with these owners and advise them of the recall.
“Throughout this recall campaign, the industry has acted with the utmost concern for the safety of vehicle owners, and will continue to do so.”
Japan’s Takata has filed for bankruptcy after its explosive air bags triggered the recall of tens of millions of cars. If you own a car with a Takata air bag, what’s the impact?