More than 1.6 million Australian cars with potentially deadly airbags installed are still on the road.
The airbags’ inflators contain a defective gas and have the potential to explode upon impact and spray metal shrapnel into drivers and passengers. They have been blamed for as many as 260 injuries and at least 24 deaths around the world, including one in Sydney.
More than 4 million cars were affected by the recall, but new figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) have revealed that less than half of the cars have been repaired.
Of that figure, more than 19,500 are the most dangerous Alpha airbags, with a 50 per cent chance of mis-deploying in a crash.
Earlier this year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Complaints Commission (ACCC) made it compulsory for manufacturers to recall vehicles with Takata airbags and replace the inflators by December 31, 2020.
The compulsory recall, which was announced by the government in February and already involved nearly 4 million vehicles, is one of the largest in Australian history.
Consumer watchdog Choice urged Aussies last year to check their cars for dodgy airbags after a number of injuries were reported by Australian drivers. Previously, there was a voluntary recall in place but some drivers were unaware or didn’t respond to vehicle manufacturer’s efforts to replace the airbags, raising concerns that many Aussies were still driving with dangerous airbags in their cars.
Manufacturers Ford, Holden and Volkswagen, among others, will be forced to replace the airbags within two years, with priority given to Alpha airbags, which pose the greatest safety risk.
Drivers will be notified by email, phone or text message when it is time for their replacement to be completed. You can check to see if your car is affected on the ACCC Takata airbag recall page.