The Takata airbag recall has become the largest automotive recall in history, affecting more than 100 million vehicles and nearly 20 automotive brands around the world.

Among those are some four million vehicles in Australia. Globally, there have been 20 deaths linked to the scandal, and 230 serious injuries. One Australian motorist lost their life to a faulty Takata airbag in July 2017 - one month after another Australian driver was seriously injured.

In February 2018, the recall of vehicles affected by the faulty Takata airbags was made compulsory under law. See the update links below.


UPDATE, February 28, 2018: The Takata airbag recall, previously voluntary, is now compulsory under law. Stories here and here.

UPDATE, July 22, 2017: Australia's first Takata-related fatality has occurred in New South Wales. Story here.


NOTE: Vehicles with so-called 'alpha' airbag inflators are the top priority in this ongoing recall. Although some four million cars have been affected by faulty Takata airbags in Australia, the number of vehicles fitted with the alpha airbag inflators is believed to be around 90,000.

As of February 28, 2018, the ACCC believes this number may now be closer to 25,000, with many of those cars no longer on the road.

ACCC website: Takata' alpha' airbags require immediate replacement


What to do if you think your vehicle may be affected

A number of recalls related to the Takata airbag fault have been announced since 2013. You can view our ongoing coverage here.

If you would prefer to find out right away, the surest path is to note your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), which is a 17-character alphanumeric serial code that can be found on your vehicle's registration paperwork, or at the points below.

With this information, you can contact the manufacturer of your vehicle on the numbers listed below. Or, if the brand has added a VIN checker to their website, you can check there.

PLEASE NOTE: At this stage (February 28, 2018), it is possible that your vehicle may be affected but the manufacturer has not yet added it to their website's database. In this case, a phone call may be the wisest course.

How can I get my car fixed?

Car makers will attempt to notify affected vehicle owners of the recall by mail at their last known address and inform them when parts become available.

Replacement parts are being prepared and shipped on an ongoing basis, however due to the unprecedented number of vehicles impacted - now upwards of 4 million in Australia and 100 million globally - there have been delays in supplying and fitting parts.

Depending on the vehicle, either the driver and front passenger airbag inflators will be replaced.

In most cases, the replacement will take approximately 1.5 hours and will be completed free of charge.


What’s the cause of the issue?

From the ACCC: "Certain types of airbags made by Takata Corporation use a chemical called phase-stabilised ammonium nitrate (PSAN) as a propellant. The ACCC’s investigation concluded that Takata PSAN airbags without a desiccant (or drying agent) or with a calcium sulphate desiccant have a design defect.

"Due to the defect, as the airbag ages and is exposed to high temperatures and humidity, the PSAN propellant is exposed to moisture and degrades. If this happens, when the airbag is triggered and deploys (in a collision), it may deploy with too much explosive force, rupturing the airbag inflator housing so that sharp metal fragments shoot out and hit vehicle occupants, potentially injuring or killing them." 

After years of blaming manufacturing and component-handling errors for the issue, Takata eventually acknowledged its airbag inflators were defective.

On June 27, 2017, it was made official that Takata Corporation has filed for bankruptcy. The company will be purchased by rival supplier, Key Safety Systems, which intends to drop the Takata name. The sale focuses on Takata's other operations and does not include its airbag business.


What’s the hurt so far? (Updated February 28, 2018)

In addition to the more-than 100 million vehicles recalled around the world, the defective airbags are linked to 23 deaths and more than 230 injuries.

In June, 2017, a young Darwin motorist became Australia's first victim of the Takata saga, suffering injuries during a minor crash.

Weeks later, in July, 2017, Australia's first Takata-related fatality was recorded. 


Which cars are affected?

NOTE: The below list is provided by ProductSafety.gov.au, but it is up-to-date only as of May 7, 2018. Readers should visit this page at productsafety.gov.au for further details on each individual model recall.

As a result of the February 28 declaration of a compulsory recall, more vehicles are scheduled to be added in April, 2018. Those vehicles have not yet been identified.

Still to be added to this list are Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar Land Rover and Volkswagen. So far, only Holden and Volkswagen have confirmed affected models and numbers. See more here: Holden article, Volkswagen article.


NOTE: If your vehicle is listed in the above table, you should visit this page at productsafety.gov.au for further details on each individual model recall. If you are unsure if your exact car is affected, you should contact the manufacturer of your vehicle via the numbers and websites listed earlier in this article.