If you have one of these makes and models, Choice suggests you take action now. Picture: Choice
If you have one of these makes and models, Choice suggests you take action now. Picture: Choice

Compulsory recall looms for thousands of cars

THE Federal Government is threatening to introduce the first-ever compulsory safety recall for cars as another 877,000 vehicles - and eight more automotive brands - are added to the tally.

But they are yet to reveal how a compulsory safety recall will be enforced.

There are now more than 3.3 million vehicles - about one in seven cars on our roads - that have been affected by the Takata airbag recall locally.

There have been 19 deaths globally - including one in Australia - as a result of faulty Takata airbags which spray shrapnel when deployed in a crash because they have an unstable explosive material.

More than 100 million vehicles have been recalled worldwide but, to date, only 950,000 of the more than 3.3 million affected cars in Australia have had their airbags replaced.

That leaves more than 2.4 million cars on Australian roads yet to have faulty airbags replaced.

Of particular concern are 51,000 of 150,000 "Alpha" airbags - that are more vulnerable than other types of Takata airbags - yet to be replaced.

While the Federal Government has not clarified what action it will take if motorists do not bring affected cars in for repair, News Corp Australia has been told the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will likely take action against the car manufacturers rather than consumers, after it asks them to do a stocktake and account for the repair of every affected vehicle.

It wants all affected airbags replaced by no later than 31 December 2020, to allow for the production, distribution and fitment of 2.4 million new devices.

Some manufacturers have already resorted to hiring private investigators to contact customers who've repeatedly ignored recall notices in the mail.

The car industry is able to track down owners of older vehicles because the registration authorities in each state and territory provide the most up to date address information.

Not every customer understands the recall work is free of charge.

So far Honda has the highest clearance rate, fixing 80 per cent of its 650,000 affected cars.

But the industry average for Takata airbag replacements for other brands is just 17 per cent.

A joint statement by Small Business Minister Michael McCormack and Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher said: "Our number one priority and responsibility is to protect Australian consumers' safety."

The Taskforce found Takata airbags without a desiccant (or drying agent) or with a calcium sulphate desiccant have a design flaw that can result in misdeployment, causing serious injury or death to vehicle occupants."

The Federal Government has asked the car industry to make submissions to the Takata Taskforce by 3 October 2017.

News Corp Australia has been told a decision regarding the compulsory recall will be made within 10 days of that date.

Motorists who think that their vehicle may carry a Takata airbag are encouraged to check if their vehicle's make, model and vehicle identification number (VIN) appears on the list of affected cars on the website recalls.gov.au or click on this link.