RACV ramps up airbag pressure

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A piece of metal shrapnel from a defective Takata airbag. Photo: Getty Images.
A piece of metal shrapnel from a defective Takata airbag. Photo: Getty Images.

RACV has ramped up pressure on vehicle manufacturers and governments to replace defective airbags that have been described as “ticking time bombs”.

An estimated 2.3 million cars across Australia have been affected by one of the world’s biggest vehicle recalls.

Vehicle manufacturers report that some of the vehicles affected are up to 20 years old and have changed hands several times.

RACV has called for swift action to ensure these airbags are replaced as quickly as possible and urges Victorians not to interfere with the safety features of their vehicles, saying that any tampering could pose a serious safety risk to motorists and other road users.

Manufacturers report that about 850,000 cars have been fixed so far.

RACV’s Manager Vehicle Engineering, Michael Case, said that in many cases, replacement airbag waiting list times are too long. RACV urges manufacturers to rapidly increase the supply of airbags to meet the recall demand, as well as ensure that affected customers are notified of the potential defect as soon as possible.

“There is also a role for the Federal Government to place a greater emphasis on the recall, and to put pressure on manufacturers to speed up the process for replacing defective airbags,” Mr Case said.

Victorians concerned as to whether their vehicle is affected by the recall can visit the Product Safety Authority website.

Mr Case said that if your car is on the list, you should call your local dealership or manufacturer.

If you have already received a replacement airbag, find out what kind of airbag is now installed as some replacement systems may degrade slowly and need to be replaced again after about six years.

Mr Case said replacing the airbag would be free of charge, even if you bought the car second hand.

News reports say that at least 18 people worldwide have been killed by the airbags, including a NSW man who police say was fatally injured by flying shrapnel form his Honda CR-V airbag.

The faulty airbags are manufactured by Takata and include 60 makes of cars sold in Australia, including popular brands such as Honda, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Nissan and many more.

“RACV will continue to work with manufacturers and government to ensure the right procedures and policies are in place and that more urgent action is taken to protect the safety of all Victorians on our roads,” Mr Case said.

The full list of Takata airbag recalls affecting Australian consumers

RACV tips

  • Airbags should not be disabled, nor should owners attempt any DIY repairs. Airbags remain an integrated part of a vehicle’s safety system and are proven to help lower injury levels in a crash.
  • Owners need to carefully follow the advice of the manufacturer. If checking online, they should ensure they are looking at the manufacturer’s local website and not overseas ones as advice may differ. Each manufacturer is taking a slightly different approach to managing this recall.
  • Owners should seek more clarification from the manufacturer if they have concerns about their safety or whether it’s safe to continue to drive the vehicle.
  • Owners should not rely on advice or safety information from motoring forums or enthusiast websites. These may be well-meaning sources but the manufacturer/dealership is the correct place to seek information.
  • There are concerns in the media that manufacturers are replacing defective airbag inflators with new similar types – but age and/or deterioration is a risk factor in their failure. The manufacturer is best placed to make technical decisions about what components can be safely used.
Written by RACV
July 26, 2017