Life Auto Takata airbag recall: Website will tell you if your airbags are dangerous

Takata airbag recall: Website will tell you if your airbags are dangerous

Angelina Sujata still has scars from her Honda Civic airbag that exploded after a slow-speed crash in 2012. Photo: Getty
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Are you travelling with a killer in your car? It’s now as easy as clicking on a new website to find out.

A new website has been launched to provide a comprehensive list of the cars on Australian roads fitted with faulty Takata airbags, which have killed one person here, 24 globally and injured another 266.

In Australia, 3.05 million vehicles were fitted with the faulty airbags. There are still 1.6 million vehicles on Australian roads that have not had the faulty airbags replaced.

The most critical target of the recall and the campaign are 19,500 ‘Alpha’ airbags still on Australian roads.

These have up to a one-in-two chance of their inflators rupturing in an accident and spraying metal shards into the faces and upper bodies of passengers.

Alpha airbag inflators were installed in certain BMW, Honda, Lexus, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota models sold between 2001 and 2004. These vehicles should not be driven and owners should contact the manufacturer immediately.

Launched today, the website has been funded by the Australian automotive industry and is being promoted by a television commercial with the blunt message ‘Don’t die wondering’.

The website allows owners to check the status of their car by typing in the registration and checking it against the database of affected vehicles.

Previously, owners usually had to check the status of their vehicles via longer VIN numbers at manufacturer sites.

The multi-million-dollar initiative was agreed to in a rare show of bipartisanship by the auto industry as part of a mandatory recall announced by the federal government in February.

That recall was recommended by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which had criticised the industry’s voluntary efforts to recall the airbags.

But the industry argues that getting owners to respond is a significant challenge. Honda Australia, which has been replacing Takata airbags since 2009, says it has contacted affected owners up to eight times to get them to book in their vehicles for the free replacement.

The Australian to die as a result of the a faulty airbag was a Sydney man driving a Honda CR-V.

All up, 1.6 million vehicles from 23 brands need to have their Takata airbag inflators replaced free of charge by the time the recall is expected to be completed in 2020.

“It is vital that vehicle owners don’t underestimate the seriousness of this national recall,” said Tony Weber, the chief executive of the peak auto industry body.

Cars in high temperature and humidity levels are more likely to have airbag failure sooner and are being prioritised by the recall.

A global shortage of Takata airbag inflators is hampering the process and has forced the installation of faulty replacements by some brands. These inflators will in turn have to be replaced within six years.

The process of recall has also been staggered to manage the workload for the dealerships of the affected brands. A comprehensive Takata wrap-up can be found on the ACCC website.

About 100 million vehicles are affected globally by the Takata recall, which is the largest in automotive history.

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