Motorists have been urged to check their cars are not among those fitted with a faulty airbag that has been linked to a death and a case of serious injury in Australia.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is investigating the recall of airbags manufactured by Japanese company Takata, which have been fitted in 60 makes of cars sold in Australia.
The airbags have the potential to explode and send metal shrapnel and other material into the cabin of a vehicle, because the gas used to inflate the bag can become volatile over time.
“Do not ignore or delay responding to a letter from your car’s manufacturer or retailer asking you to have your car’s airbag replaced,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.
“The airbags degrade over time and can become lethal by misdeploying and firing metal shards at the car’s occupants.”
But even those who have had their airbags replaced are advised to seek advice from their vehicle’s manufacturer, as some have been refitted with another airbag that may degrade over time and need to be replaced within six years.
“Car manufacturers and retailers must let consumers know when they are having their car’s airbag replaced what type of airbag it is being replaced with, and if it is likely to be the subject of another recall down the track,” Mr Sims said.
Consumer group CHOICE says Toyota, Mazda, BMW, Lexus and Subaru have admitted to making identical replacements, but other manufacturers are remaining tight-lipped.
Earlier this month a man in NSW was killed when his airbag misdeployed, and a woman in the Northern Territory suffered serious injuries from her airbag in April.
Since 2009, more than 2.3 million vehicles have been subject to the recall, the largest vehicle recall in history.
But so far only 850,000 cars have had their airbags replaced.
The ACCC says the availability of stock, retrofitting issues and the availability of authorised technicians made progress on the recall slow, but car manufacturers say there is now sufficient stock for affected cars to be fixed.
More vehicles will be added to the recall over time.
The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development is monitoring the recall, and the ACCC is seeking information from the department about what it requires manufacturers and retailers to tell consumers about the airbags in their cars.
To check if your vehicle is on the recall list, visit the Product Safety Australia website.