Government proposes compulsory recall for faulty Takata airbags

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The Federal Government is considering imposing a compulsory recall of all vehicles with faulty Takata airbags after an ACCC safety investigation discovered a design flaw that could lead to serious injury or death to vehicle occupants.

The ACCC probe found that Takata airbag inflators without a desiccant (or drying agent) or with a calcium sulphate desiccant have a design flaw that could cause the ammonium nitrate propellant to degrade, leading to potential misdeployment of the airbags and a risk of serious injury or even death.

Suppliers in Australia have recalled about 2.49 million vehicles to replace the faulty airbag inflators since the voluntary recalls began in 2009.

However, the ACCC found that overall replacement rate for airbags in vehicles subject to voluntarily recall was only around 38% (approximately 955,500) and in the case of one major manufacturer – only 17%.

“The proposed compulsory recall will extend to all vehicles which are subject to an existing voluntary recall, as well as to approximately 877,000 additional vehicles which have not yet been recalled,” the ACCC said in a statement.

“This number may increase as the ACCC’s investigation continues.”

The consumer watchdog said the so called ‘alpha’ airbags posed the greatest risk to vehicles occupants, adding that more than a third of the 150,000 recalled alpha airbags were yet to be replaced.

“It is critical that drivers with alpha airbags installed take immediate steps to have the airbags replaced because of a significant risk of injury or death involved in using vehicles with these airbags,” reads the statement.

“Drivers with other recalled airbags should arrange for them to be replaced as soon as possible.”

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