All you need to know about the airbag recall: 5-minute guide
IT'S the biggest recall in Australian automotive history and yet many of us still don't know which cars are affected and when potentially deadly Takata airbags will be replaced.
Takata airbag recalls have been rolling out over the past five years but the Federal Government stepped in this week and made the safety campaign compulsory because it said some companies were taking too long to fix cars.
Takata supplies 20 per cent of the world's airbags but the recall affects two out of every seven cars locally because of our model mix.
To find out if your car is affected - and how to get your car fixed - we've compiled this 10-point step-by-step guide.
1. Is my car affected?
Find your car's VIN (vehicle identification number) either on the vehicle itself or on registration papers. Regardless of how old your car is, go to the website for that manufacturer (for example, Toyota.com.au). Click the Takata airbag recall link on the home page and enter your car's VIN. The website will tell you within seconds if your car is affected. In some cases it will then prompt you to make an appointment if your replacement airbag is in stock. The checks and the recall work are all free of charge.
2. Don't have your VIN? Try recalls.gov.au.
The ACCC's product safety website recalls.gov.au will redirect you to a mini-site for Takata airbag recalls. Every model equipped with Takata airbags made in Mexico, Japan or Thailand is listed (approximately 2.7 million cars). However, the most recent list of cars with German-made Takata airbags is still being compiled by some manufacturers and yet to be added to the recalls.gov.au website. Ford, Holden, Volkswagen, Skoda and Jaguar-Land Rover have released their lists but they're not yet on the government website. Mercedes and Audi were yet to list their recalled cars as this article was published.
3. Where do I get my car fixed?
Regardless of how old your vehicle is - and even if you did not buy it new - you're entitled to a replacement airbag free of charge if your vehicle is on the recall list. Contact a dealership that represents the brand of car you own, call their service centre with your car's VIN and they can tell you over the phone when the parts will be in. If you can't find your rego papers and don't know your car's VIN, take it in to the service department and an adviser will check the car for you free of charge.
4. How long will it take?
The repair work itself takes only a few hours, in some cases less. However because dealers are processing so many cars you may still need to leave the car with them for half a day or a whole day.
5. I've been told I will be waiting months, what should I do?
Takata and the car companies are prioritising the most dangerous and oldest Takata airbags. They are called "Alpha" airbags and are listed clearly on the recalls.gov.au website. Of the 4 million cars being recalled in Australia approximately 89,000 "Alpha" airbags have already been replaced and there are 25,000 outstanding. "Alpha" airbags have a one-in-two chance of spraying shrapnel when deployed in a crash. None of the affected Takata airbags will deploy randomly. The ACCC has advised owners of cars with "Alpha" airbags to stop driving them immediately and get their cars taken to a dealership for repair. The 2.3 million other Takata airbags still need to be replaced because they have a one per cent chance of spraying shrapnel when deployed in a crash.
6. Should I disconnect my airbag?
No. Experts have warned motorists not to tamper with airbags. They are explosive devices and can be deadly if handled incorrectly.
7. Why are some cars fixed faster than others?
Takata and the car industry is working back from the oldest cars first - and cars in hot and humid climates - because the explosive material inside the airbag deteriorates over time and becomes unstable in these conditions.
8. I'm not happy with what the car dealer is telling me.
It is compulsory for your car to be fixed under the new Federal Government guidelines.
However, the dealer may need to source parts and fit you in to their booking schedule - but the they cannot opt out of fixing it. If you are still unhappy with timeline you are given, you may find the car company more helpful than the dealer. Contact the customer service phone number for the brand of car you own, regardless of how old your car is. The number can be found on the car company's website. Customer service representatives will be able to clarify if your car is affected and provide a better estimate of when the new airbag will be ready to be installed.
9. Why is it taking so long?
The car industry has until the end of the year 2020 to get all affected cars fixed. It is taking this long to track down vehicles and source replacement parts. Some car companies have resorted to contacting toll road operators to crosscheck the latest registration data to see if the vehicle is still being driven. They are also hiring private investigators to doorknock customers who've not responded to letters and phone calls. And they're trying to retrieve dodgy airbags from wrecking yards so they don't end up on the road.
10. What should I do if I get a recall notice in the mail?
Don't ignore it. Phone the number listed, follow the instructions. Tragically the registered owner of the 2007 Honda CR-V in which a driver was killed by a faulty Takata airbag in Sydney in July last year was sent five recall notices, but the car wasn't taken in for repair.
TAKATA AIRBAGS: WHICH BRANDS ARE AFFECTED
Go to: recalls.gov.au