Does Your Car Have a Faulty Takata Airbag?
A new Takata airbag warning, which affects 78,000 vehicles running on the Australian roads, has been issued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). This adds to the ongoing recall of Takata airbags in more than three million Aussie cars and 100 million vehicles globally.
The new recall covers certain old BMW, Audi, Ford, Volkswagen, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Suzuki and Toyota cars manufactured between 1996 and 2000. These cars are reportedly fitted with faulty airbags that have NADI 5-AT inflators.
Unlike the airbag inflators involved in the existing global Takata recalls that used volatile ammonium nitrate, the latest issue focuses on particular airbags with non-azide driver inflators.
While recalls are ongoing for affected vehicles, car owners are advised not to drive them because of the potential danger. Those who have old cars or planning to buy used vehicles are also advised to visit the Takata website and check if their vehicles are affected.
According to BMW documents...
The NADI 5-AT infiltrators were made before 1999 and were not sealed properly. This defect could result in the airbag either under-inflating or exploding when deployed during an accident. The airbags can cause sharp metal fragments to shoot out, resulting in serious injuries and fatalities.
The new warning was made after BMW spearheaded recalls following the fatal accident of a BMW driver in Australia who was killed by shrapnel hurled by the defective airbag. Another Aussie was also injured in a separate incident involving a BMW with a defective airbag.
The Takata Airbag Recall
Aside from the latest recall, a global recall on cars with defective airbags has been existing since 2008. This larger recall targets airbag inflators that use ammonium nitrate as a propellant. The compound is vulnerable to high temperature and moisture, which can cause airbags to deploy violently, spewing shrapnel inside the vehicle.
The faulty airbags, according to the Japanese automotive parts company Takata, were manufactured by its North American/Mexican subsidiary, TK Holdings Inc. based in Coahuila, Mexico. The Mexican subsidiary had reportedly mishandled the manufacture of explosive propellants and improperly stored chemicals used in airbags. Worst, it did not keep proper quality control records of the vehicles with defective airbags.
- Known as the world’s largest automotive recall and the most significant compulsory recall in Australia’s history, the ongoing recall of faulty Takata airbags started in 2008 when Honda made a preventive recall of 4,000 Accords and Civics manufactured in 2001 worldwide. The recalls have since continued as the number of deaths and injuries linked to faulty airbags in Honda cars increased.
- More recalls were conducted in 2013 after a series of deaths and injuries were linked to defective Takata airbag inflators across several car brands. This led Takata to initially recall 3.6 million cars worldwide in April and May 2013 and another round of recalls in June 2013, which included Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, and BMW brands.
- With more incidents of Takata airbag-related injuries and deaths growing over the years, almost all other car manufacturers participated shortly after, many of which have initiated a voluntary recall as a precautionary measure. These include Audi, Cadillac, Chrysler, Citroen, Dodge, Ferrari, Ford, General Motors Chevrolet, Holden, Jaguar Land Rover, Jeep, Lexus, McLaren, Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia/Pacific Pty Ltd, Mitsubishi, Mustang Australia, Performax, Skoda, Subaru, Tesla, and Volkswagen.
- As of this writing, at least 29 deaths and over 320 injuries linked to the ruptures of defective Takata airbags have been recorded worldwide. In Australia, one person has been killed and another seriously injured in separate incidents.
In Australia, a compulsory recall started in 2009
It was initiated by ACCC with approximately 2000 vehicles. It required suppliers of vehicles with defective Takata airbags to provide airbag replacements in affected Australian vehicles not later than December 31, 2020, unless approved for an extension by the organisation.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) warned that out of the million vehicles recalled for faulty airbags, 20,000 are classified as "critical". These particular cars were fitted with Takata “alpha” airbags that have a high risk of rupturing.
The high-risk alpha category airbags were installed in BMW, Honda, Lexus, Mazda, Nissan, and Toyota models sold between 2001 and 2004.
What to Do if You’re Affected?
To avoid airbag-related injuries and accidents, re-check your car on the Takata website. You can also contact your car manufacturer to help check if your car is fitted with the potentially deadly airbag.
If your vehicle is affected:
- Respond to the recall ASAP.
- Avoid using the car; Borrow a car from family or friends or use alternative transport options.
Audi, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Suzuki and Toyota provide the following communication portals for assistance:
Meanwhile, car manufacturers are encouraged to do a voluntary recall of the affected vehicles. If they do not take appropriate steps, a costly compulsory product recall will be implemented. Aside from attracting negative publicity, the car manufacturers would also shoulder all expenses. If they remain defiant against the compulsory recall order, they would be prosecuted and fined up to $600,000.