Why drivers are being forced to carry on with deadly airbags

Josh Dutton
News Reporter

A South Australian man claims he was told he has a two-year wait ahead of him to replace a faulty Takata airbag in his Holden.

James Roberts, of Berri in South Australia’s Riverland region, said he was told the replacement airbags weren’t available yet when contacting his dealer for one for his Holden Cruze during the first recall of the airbags in 2017.

He’s since checked online using his Vehicle Identification Number but is yet to receive a phone call or letter adding he went to the dealership as recently as last week.

A faulty Takata airbag. File pic. Source: Getty Images

“I’m retired, but drive long distances even to get to the local supermarket (about 20km), or to visit my kids who are scattered across SA,” he told Yahoo7.  

“Every time I sit in the driver’s seat, I am apparently sitting in front of a loaded gun.”

Mr Roberts’s concern follows the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s release of data detailing 1.8 million Takata airbags yet to be recalled – with half a million in NSW and 448,000 in Victoria.

The airbags can release metal shards with 24 people killed worldwide. There are concerns people are ignoring the Takata airbag recall.

Mr Roberts said “the warning is not good at all” adding it is “slanted towards people with access to the internet”.

“A lot of people who have cars in the vintage of this fault are retired or not computer savvy,” he said.

Nearly two million Takata airbags are yet to be recalled according to the ACCC. Here are some of the metal fragments which can disperse. Source: Getty Images

Most of the cars on the Takata airbag recall list were engineered from 2000 onwards.

Many people claim they’ve had difficulty getting replacements despite drivers being seriously urged to replace Takata airbags.

A resident of Narre Warren, in Melbourne, said he was told by a Nissan dealer that replacement bags weren’t available on site.

“They have to be ordered from overseas and take months to get here,” he said.

Another man said he contacted Mercedes for a replacement but was still waiting on a letter.

However, others claim they’ve had no issues.

A man from Cooma, in southern NSW, said it only took three days “to get in” for a replacement airbag in his Audi while an Adelaide woman claims she had no problem getting her Nissan fixed.

An ACCC spokesperson told Yahoo7 vehicle manufactures are required to have plans in place to promptly rectify vehicles under active recall.

“If your manufacturer has told you that your vehicle is under active recall, they should be able to tell when and where your airbag will be replaced,” the spokesperson said.

“If you have any queries about your vehicle contact your manufacturer for further information on the recall.”

The spokesperson added anyone who has trouble obtaining a replacement airbag can report to the consumer watchdog.