Australia's peak automotive industry body is urging drivers and passengers to conduct a simple but potentially life-saving check from their smartphones to see if their vehicle they're travelling in requires urgent airbag replacement under the ongoing compulsory Takata recall.
A faulty Takata airbag could kill or seriously injure occupants, but the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) says motorists and their passengers can avoid this scenario by simply using their mobile phone to conduct a quick check before hitting the road.
Anyone can check the recall status of any vehicle by texting TAKATA to 0487 AIRBAG (247 224) or visiting the website www.ismyairbagsafe.com.au and entering the car's vehicle registration number and state of registration.
If the car is involved in the recall, the owner can contact the manufacturer and have it repaired for free.
Meanwhile, "consumers who imported a vehicle directly into Australia from overseas are urged to contact the vehicle manufacturer’s Australian office to see if it is affected by the recall," the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said.
"Those who imported a vehicle using a business in Australia should check this with the business, and arrange airbag replacements if needed."
The ACCC's compulsory recall has been ongoing since March 2018 and has seen an average of over 3100 airbags replaced each day across the country.
However, as of July 31, 2020, about 180,000 airbags in more than 155,000 vehicles are yet to be replaced.
Of those 155,000 unrectified vehicles, 6000 contain high-risk 'critical' airbags and should not taken off the road entirely, with owners urged to contact the manufacturer and have the car towed immediately.
The faulty airbags contain a chemical called phase-stabilised ammonium nitrate (PSAN) and feature a design defect that may cause the airbag to deploy with explosive force and send sharp metal fragments into the cabin at high speed.
"Family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues should check before taking a journey in someone else’s vehicle. Do not rely on others. A quick check for yourself or on behalf of your kids and other loved ones could save a life," FCAI chief executive Tony Weber said.
“It doesn’t matter if it is a quick run to the shops, a neighbour’s school run with your kids, a drop-off or pick-up at the local railway station or a long holiday or business trip. A faulty Takata airbag can explode at any time with devastating results.”
Importantly, automotive dealerships and service centres can still conduct airbag replacements amid ongoing coronavirus restrictions.
In fact, the ACCC said in the three months to July 31, more than 40,000 vehicles had their airbags replaced despite the pandemic.
Even under stage-four lockdowns, Victoria's Department of Health and Human Services has granted an exemption to dealerships and service centres to stay open for on-site work provided they are conducting critical vehicle repairs, which includes Takata airbag replacement.
From the end of July 2020, manufacturers affected by the recall have only five months left to meet the replacement deadline of December 31, 2020, or face penalties.