Millions of Australians will have to hand over their cars to fix a problem with lethal airbags

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  • The first compulsory vehicle recall in Australian history adds another 1.3 million vehicles to the existing voluntary recall of 2.7 million cars
  • Manufacturers have been given a two-year deadline to act
  • 25,000 cars in Australia have airbags that are so dangerous, motorists should not drive them
  • The faulty Takata airbags have caused 23 deaths worldwide

The Australian government has given car manufacturers until 31 December, 2020, to replace potentially deadly airbags on more than 2.3 million cars in the biggest recall in the country’s history.

The brands involved now include Ford, GM Holden, Mercedes Benz, Tesla, Jaguar, Land Rover, Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda.

They’ve been added to the existing two-year-old voluntary recalls of vehicles from BMW, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ferrari, GMC, Honda, Jeep, Lexus, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, Volvo and Hino Trucks.

It is the first compulsory recall of vehicles in Australia. The fault in the Japanese-made Takata airbag sparked a massive global car recall in 2009.

Unhappy with the pace of the current replacement program for the defective Takata airbags, which have caused deaths from explosions following corrosion, Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, Michael Sukkar, today issued a compulsory recall notice.

“While almost one in five passenger vehicles on Australian roads have now been recalled, the voluntary recall process has not been effective in some cases, and some manufacturers have not taken satisfactory action to address the serious safety risk which arises after the airbags are more than six years old,” Sukkar said.

Priority will be given to replacing alpha airbags, which pose an immediate and critical safety risk. Around 25,000 cars in Australia still have alpha airbags in them.

“If a recalled vehicle has an alpha airbag, there is an immediate and extreme safety risk and these vehicles should not be driven,” Sukkar said.

The recall involves 100 million vehicles worldwide, manufactured as far back as 2000, including four million in Australia. The initial voluntary recall involved 2.7 million (including 115,000 with the high-risk alpha airbags) and so far 1.7 million have had airbags replaced (including 90,000 alpha airbags).

Today’s compulsory recall adds a further 1.3 million vehicles to the list. Replacement is free.

ACCC’s Product Safety Australia

A least 23 deaths globally, as well as more 230 serious injuries have been attributed to as defective Takata airbags, including a man who was killed in Australia last year, while a woman was seriously injured. Corrosion by the ammonium nitrate in the gas cylinders used has resulted in shrapnel being propelled through a vehicle when the canister deploys the airbag.

The assistant minister said manufacturers have until 3 April this year to provide details of the additional recalled vehicles to the ACCC.

“To ensure a coordinated recall, over the next two years manufacturers will be required to progressively identify their recalls and replace airbags in affected vehicles,” he said.

Sukkar said that if your vehicle is recalled, contact your local dealer or manufacturer to book in a time to have the airbag replaced.

“Due to the safety risk, do not ignore or delay responding to a letter from your vehicle manufacturer asking you to have airbags replaced,” he said.

Recalled vehicles are published on the government’s Product Safety Website.

Here’s part of list, featuring cars on the previous voluntary recall, published by Choice last year.

Choice.The vehicles involved in Australia’s voluntary recall involving 2.7 million cars.

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