So your car is on the Takata airbag recall list, but it’s too much trouble to take it to a mechanic to be checked out, right?
The pressure is on car manufacturers and Australia’s consumer watchdog to get the faulty airbags fixed, but one motoring body is warning it is unlikely all the defective components will be tracked down and replaced.
And the bottom line is — it’s up to owners to make sure their cars get checked out.
- 100 million cars recalled worldwide
- 2.1 million cars recalled across Australia
- 60 different makes and models affected locally
- Replacement rate in Australia is currently 36 per cent
- Two deaths in Australia have been linked to the faulty product
- The number of deaths associated with the product worldwide is 18
Steve Spalding from the RACQ said, given 2.1 million cars were affected in Australia and some of them were several years old, tracing them all and then replacing the part would be difficult.
“It would take a mechanic a year to work through 1,000 … a year’s extra work for between 1,500 and 2,000 mechanics,” he said.
“You’ve got to somehow communicate with owners who will be second, third, fourth owners down the track.
“It’s quite likely that many of these cars will go unrepaired to be retired from service before they get the work done.”
To complicate the replacement process even further, a Choice investigation recently found some manufacturers were installing an airbag with similar potential problems during the recall visit.
What to do if your car is on the list:
First things first. Make sure.
- Check if there is an active recall on your vehicle via the Product Safety Authority
- Call your local dealership or the manufacturer
- If you have already received a replacement, find out what kind of airbag is now installed.
Rod Sims from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission:
“We’re urging people, if you have had a replacement airbag, to get in touch with your dealer and find out if it’s one of the Takata bags.
“If you had a replacement airbag, it takes five or six years for these things to degrade.”
One Honda owner who made contact with the ABC said they had airbags in two vehicles replaced with no problems last year but when they called the dealership today to ask what airbags were installed, they were “stonewalled” by the dealership.
Mr Sims said the biggest concern was those who have not yet had any replacement airbags.
Tips from RACQ:
Don’t do nothing.
“Some owners are just indifferent to taking their car back,” Mr Spalding said.
Once a car changes ownership and the manufacturer loses track of it, it is up to the current owner to reach out and take action with recalls to ensure that vehicle is safe for the rest of its life.
“The car might sit in someone’s paddock or back of some industrial land … other than deregistration there is no visibility of where that car is,” he said.
“These cars that do go to the scrapyard early … if someone then goes along at later stage to fix the car with second-hand parts, you don’t want to be sold second-hand parts that might seem OK but [have been] part of a recall.”
Do not attempt to disable airbags yourself.
“What is essential is that owners do not attempt any DIY on any airbag or safety system on a car,” Mr Spalding said.
“That extends out to what an owner might see as a routine thing. They might think they can fix a bit of trim on a steering wheel but don’t.”
Follow the advice of the manufacturer
“If manufacturers say it’s still safe to drive the vehicle, owners should follow their advice,” Mr Spalding said.
“If the manufacturer makes a call to say you should not drive this vehicle with a defective bag, the owner needs to follow this advice.
“If you have concerns, press them on those points.”
Beware unofficial advice
“Don’t take advice from well-meaning forums or enthusiast groups or whoever they may be, that advice may be wrong,” Mr Spalding said.