Australia to face compulsory car recall to protect drivers from exploding airbags

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Sydney Traffic
Morning rush hour traffic crawls along a freeway in western Sydney December 15, 2008. Reuters/Tim Wimborne

The federal government has declared that it will oblige the recall of 2.3 million cars as it seeks to protect Australian drivers from the risk of exploding airbags. Drivers are urged to check whether their motor vehicles have been recalled in order to replace defective Takata airbags.

Assistant Minister to the Treasurer Michael Sukkar on Wednesday released specific models and years for the impacted cars, reports. A large number of car makes and models, as well as some motorcycles, are among those to be recalled.

Manufacturers such as Mitsubishi, Toyota, Ford, Subaru, Volkswagen, Nissan and BMW will have to replace the airbags as soon as possible and for free. It could be the country’s largest ever consumer recall.

In his announcement, Sukkar said that the previous voluntary recall has not been satisfactory overall. He added that the government prioritises all Australian’s safety.

The move to issue the recall is based on a recommendation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). A thorough and comprehensive safety investigation has been conducted, which included consultation with impacted manufacturers, international experts, industry stakeholders and other parties.

Sukkar explained that the compulsory recall will ensure that all manufacturers, dealers, importers and other suppliers can guarantee that faulty Takata airbags are replaced at the soonest time possible.

The federal Labor had also called for an obligatory recall last year. The latest mandatory recall has been welcomed by consumer advocacy Choice.

The government’s advice for those whose vehicles have been recalled is to contact their local dealer or manufacturer to book for a time to replace the airbag. Vehicles assessed as high risk will be prioritised. The rating will be based on the car’s age and the vehicle’s location, specifically in areas of humidity and heat. The location of the airbag within the vehicle will be given priority as well.

ACCC boss Rod Sims said that the age of vehicle and the climatic conditions within which it has been driven are factors to consider to determine whether an airbag is dangerous.

The ACCC encouraged motorists to visit to see if their car has been recalled. Based on overseas reports, there have been 23 deaths so far and over 230 serious injuries worldwide attributed to Takata airbags that can spray shrapnel when deployed in a crash.

Exploding airbags has been a global issue. Defective airbags have caused deaths worldwide, which include one death in Australia and another severe injury.