Industry body, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), is calling on drivers to check if their vehicle is fitted with a potentially deadly Takata airbag inflator with a new scare campaign.
According to the body, more than 19,500 of the worst 'alpha' inflators are still out on Australian roads, while more than 1.6 million vehicle owners are impacted by the compulsory recall. The risk of airbags mis-deploying could arise within just six years of purchase, depending on the conditions in which it's kept.
A combination of heat and humidity can make the propellant in Takata airbag inflators degrade over time. In an accident where the airbags deploy, metal fragments could shoot into the cabin, posing a serious risk of injury or death to passengers. Older cars in hot, humid climates are most likely to be affected by the fault.
There are 24 reported deaths and more than 260 injuries from faulty inflators worldwide. One Australian motorist was killed by a Takata airbag in July 2017, while another was seriously injured in June of the same year.
The new FCAI website, www.IsMyAirbagSafe.com.au, allows drivers to enter their registration number and find out whether their car is included in the recall. A trio of frequently-asked questions is included to reassure owners they won't have to pay for the replacement, and to reinforce how dangerous the airbags are.
A new television commercial will also be doing the rounds, as the FCAI throws its weight behind the effort to have the remaining potentially deadly inflators changed.
“Some 19,500 vehicles in Australia still need to have their alpha airbag inflators replaced as a matter of utmost urgency,” Tony Weber (below), FCAI chief executive, said.
“In certain circumstances, there is a chance as high as 1-in-2 that these may rupture on deployment in a collision. These vehicles with alpha airbag inflators should not be driven and owners should immediately contact their manufacturer.
“If a faulty Takata airbag inflator ruptures, metal fragments will propel out of the airbag and into the vehicle cabin, potentially causing serious injury or death to occupants. It is vital that vehicle owners don’t underestimate the seriousness of this national recall.”
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.
Manufacturers are going to great lengths to contact owners of affected vehicles. Honda has replaced over 600,000 faulty inflators since starting its recall campaign, but around 41,000 of its vehicles with the potentially deadly airbags are still kicking about.
The company has sent as many as five notices to owners, reached out with targeted social media campaigns, worked with toll-road operators and engaged in door-knocking effort to get the remaining vehicles sorted out.
MORE: Takata airbag coverage