Thousands of Aussie drivers are at risk of potentially deadly injuries, as the deadline approaches to replace their faulty Takata airbags.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) issued the warning earlier this month and called on more than 65,000 drivers to book in for a replacement.
Takata airbags have the potential to explode in an accident, even in minor ones, and can send sharp metal fragments through the vehicle at high speed, potentially seriously injuring or even killing its occupants, the ACCC warned.
There has been 32 deaths and 350 people injured worldwide by the airbags.
One Aussie has lost their life to the faulty equipment and three have been injured, one seriously.
While more than 2.7 million cars have been fixed in Australia since the worldwide recall, 2 per cent of cars are still on the road needing a replacement.
Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane’s outer suburbs have the most airbags still outstanding.
Manufacturers are required to replace all of the Takata airbags by December 31, 2020, as part of the recall.
“More than 65,000 of these dangerous vehicles are still on our roads, potentially putting people’s lives in danger. Replacements are free of charge, and there is no excuse for not getting it done,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.
“Before you get away this summer, please check your cars even if you have checked before, and get your friends and family to check their vehicles too.
“All you need to do is type in the car’s number plate and state or territory of registration online at ismyairbagsafe.com.au. You can even check it for others. It takes less than a minute and could save a life.”
There are more than 6000 vehicles classified as “critical”, meaning they shouldn’t be driven at all. Owners should instead contact their manufacturer to arrange for the vehicle to be towed or for a technician to be sent out, free of charge.
“We’re concerned by the number of people who have refused to have their airbags replaced and the number of airbags that have not been retrieved. We want to assure people that replacements will not cost anything, and could help protect you and your loved ones,” Ms Rickard said.
“States and territories are imposing registration sanctions for vehicles affected by the recall. Drivers who don’t get their airbags replaced could risk having their vehicle’s registration cancelled.”
The car industry is hoping to have everyone repaired by December 31 but will potentially extend the date if necessary.
“We don’t want an extension to the deadline, but we are not going to turn our backs on the consumer,” said Tony Weber, the chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.
“The aim of the industry is have all Takata airbags replaced or cars accounted for by December 31, 2020,” Mr Weber told Car Advice.
“However, we remain committed to fixing vehicles even if after the deadline, and to ensuring the support network is there into 2021.”