The Takata airbag scandal is now the biggest vehicles recall in history, affecting over 100 million cars sold by some 20 automobile brands around the world. In Australia, the government made it compulsory for all vehicles installed with the defective Takata airbags to be recalled.
In case your vehicle is affected by these defective airbags, here are answers to some of the most frequently-asked questions (FAQs) about the Takata airbags recall.
How is the compulsory recall different from the voluntary recall?
Under voluntary recalls, it is the responsibility of suppliers to initiate the recall, whereas in the case of compulsory recalls, it is the Minister who orders it. In Australia, many voluntary recalls have been made. Now, however, all suppliers are ordered to recall all released vehicles installed with the defective airbags.
Also, compulsory recalls specify the timing and manner of conducting the recall activity, and failure to comply with the provided procedures can result in penalties for suppliers. In comparison, suppliers may differ from each other in the procedures they implement under a voluntary recall situation.
Does compulsory recall give consumers more rights?
The compulsory recall is more advantageous to consumers because all car owners with a car qualified for recall can be assured that they get what they deserve. It requires the suppliers to complete the replacement of the defective part by December 31, 2020. The suppliers should also provide assistance to affected consumers who may need transportation or towing services, loans or hire cars to facilitate the process.
Is my vehicle included in the recall?
In case your vehicle qualifies for the recall, your car’s manufacturer will get in touch with you for the free airbag replacement once the recall activity has been initiated. The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) website provides records of active or future recalls, and you can check the status of your vehicle here. All you need is the vehicle identification number (VIN) to check the recall status of your car.
Another way of checking if your vehicle is on a recall list is by visiting www.ismyairbagsafe.com.au and running the registration plate number of your car. You can also send a text message by typing 'Takata’ on 0487 247 224 to do the same.
Some vehicle manufacturers also provide access to their recall database on their website, and this can also tell you if your vehicle is under active, critical, or future recalls.
Can I use the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) search to find out if a vehicle is covered by this recall?
Yes, consumers can find such valuable information on the PPSR website that can help them while purchasing a used vehicle or other personal property. In addition to information about any recall activity associated with a used car, PPSR information can also reveal whether a car has any loans or security interests attached to it and if it had been reported as written off or stolen. However, this search will cost you $2, including GST per search.
What action do I need to take if my vehicle has been recalled?
If you find out that your vehicle’s recall status is active, you need to contact your car dealer as early as you can to make an appointment for the replacement of the defective airbag. This replacement must be free of cost, and those customers who have been charged by their suppliers for the same may file a report with the ACCC here.
In case your vehicle is on a future recall list, then make sure your supplier has your updated contact information so that you are promptly informed about any update on your vehicle’s recall status.
Do some vehicles have a higher airbag replacement priority?
Yes, vehicles that have critical airbags, including those with alpha airbags, need to be promptly scheduled for replacement as they pose a higher risk of being ruptured. An inflator rupture risk is also present in vehicles with other types of Takata airbags that are also defective, older automobiles, and those that have prolonged exposure to hot/humid conditions.
In case the defective airbag is on the driver's side instead of the passenger side, the risk of sustaining a serious/fatal injury due to rupture is higher, and hence replacement must be prioritized for such vehicles.
Under the compulsory recall, vehicles registered in hot/humid areas are at the top of the list. Next in priority are older vehicles (especially those more than six years old), followed by cars with an inflator on the driver's side.
What is the alpha airbag by Takata?
The alpha airbags were distributed by Takata in Australia from 2001 to 2004 for installation in some vehicles, and they are also part of the overall critical Takata airbags recall category. These airbags have a higher probability of getting ruptured and hence pose a greater safety risk. Vehicles that have the alpha airbag car parts have been placed on the critical recall list. Australians with cars that have these airbags must take action immediately to have their airbags replaced. The ACCC also recommends that people must immediately stop driving vehicles that have the alpha airbags, and suppliers may offer to have the car towed to the place where replacement activity is to take place.
Until my Takata airbag is replaced or repaired, should I disconnect it?
No. According to experts, there is still a high chance that your Takata airbag would deploy properly in case of a collision, protecting you from severe injuries. Hence, disconnecting the airbags could pose a higher risk to drivers than having defective airbags.
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Muhammad A. Lashari