The Chinese-built Geely MK small car has been recalled in Australia after asbestos was found inside two of the vehicle's engine components.
All three of Australia's cut-price Chinese passenger vehicle brands have now been involved in an asbestos-related recall, with the Geely announcement coming less than four months after almost 24,000 Chery and Great Wall vehicles were recalled for a similar safety risk.
The recall affects the water inlet pipe gaskets and throttle body gaskets of more than 300 Geely MK vehicles sold in Western Australia (the only state where the car is available). A number of additional unsold vehicles in dealer stock will also be repaired as part of the recall action.
Following consultations with the relevant state and federal government authorities, the importer of Geely vehicles, Chinese Automotive Distributors (CAD), elected to recall the cars immediately.
The action taken by CAD is different to that required of Ateco Automotive, the importer of Chery and Great Wall, which, with the approval of the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), was permitted to apply warning labels to affected vehicles and remove asbestos-containing components only as and when they need replacing.
Despite CAD’s immediate recall action, the ACCC says there is a “negligible asbestos-related health risk” to drivers and passengers of the affected models, but warned that caution must be taken if carrying out maintenance on the cars’ engines.
“The gaskets are tightly embedded in the vehicles' engines and present negligible hazard during normal operation of the vehicles,” the ACCC said in a statement.
“Procedures have been prepared and implemented to ensure that the gaskets are handled correctly by mechanics during maintenance of the vehicles. Any work involving these gaskets should be carried out by an authorised licensed motor mechanic who has been made aware of these procedures.”
In a letter to owners, CAD says all friction parts of the affected Geely MK models, including brakes and clutches, have been tested and confirmed to be free of asbestos.
CAD has encouraged all affected owners to contact their local Geely dealer as soon as possible to arrange a time to complete the recall, which involves the removal and replacement of the gaskets. It is expected to take around 90 minutes and will be completed at no expense to owners.
The importation and use of asbestos has been banned in Australia since 2004. Asbestos is a naturally occurring substance that was used commercially because it possesses desirable properties including its heat, fire and electrical resistance; sound absorption qualities; high tensile strength; and affordability.
Prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibres can lead to serious illnesses, including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
The recall is the second for the Geely MK in less than five months. In July, CAD was forced to recall 421 Geely MK sedans and hatchbacks to correct two structural defects with the cars’ driver’s seats and rear doors that could see the seat slide forwards and the doors unlatch during severe frontal and side impact crashes.