| 05.10,19. 05:08 AM |
Takata airbag warning upgraded to 'critical' for 20,000 vehicles
Photo: The ACCC says a Takata airbag misdeployment can result in death or serious injury. (Reuters: Rick Wilking)
Photo: The deployed Takata airbag that injured a young Darwin driver in April 2017. (Supplied: NT Police)
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has warned that 20,000 vehicles, already under recall for defective Takata airbags, are now being classified as "critical".
The brands affected are BMW, GM, Holden, Honda, Mitsubishi and Toyota.
The regulator has urged consumers affected by the recall not to drive their vehicles.
Instead, the ACCC suggested they have their cars towed to the dealership by the manufacturer and have the airbag replaced free.
"Classification as 'critical' means manufacturers have assessed these airbags as being particularly unsafe," ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.
"A Takata airbag misdeployment can result in death or serious injury, even in a minor collision."
In a statement, the ACCC said 425,971 vehicles still had not had their airbags fixed under the compulsory recall
Consumers can check whether their vehicle is affected by the critical safety warning by visiting:
•IsMyAirbagSafe.com.au and entering their state/territory and registration plate number, or by texting 0487 AIRBAG (247224) and following the prompts
•The vehicle manufacturer's website and entering their VIN number in their Recall Database, or by contacting them direct for information
•ProductSafety.gov.au and checking either the active or future recalls lists with further information available about the recall
In April 2017, a 21-year-old woman in Darwin suffered serious injuries when her airbag did not properly deploy, and a small piece of metal struck her in the head.
It was the first reported case of its kind in Australia.
Three months later, a 58-year-old man based in Sydney was killed as a result of a defective airbag in his Honda vehicle, after it was deployed in a "relatively minor" car collision.
A forensic pathologist told the NSW Coroner's Court the man's fatal injuries were so extreme they "resembled a shotgun wound".
He was the first confirmed death attributable to a Takata airbag in Australia, the inquest was told.
Evidence was also given at the inquest that the malfunctioning airbags have been linked to 20 deaths and 230 injuries worldwide.
The ACCC warned this was a "rolling recall" — which means more vehicles may be upgraded to a "critical" safety risk at any time.
"We encourage all drivers to check if their vehicle is affected, even if they have checked before, and to act immediately to have their airbag replaced," Ms Rickard said.
Manufacturers and dealers are required to replace the unsafe airbags free of charge and an ACCC statement said it had not received any reports of consumers being charged for the replacement of their airbags.
"Any supplier charging consumers for replacement Takata airbags may face potential fines in excess of $10 million for companies and $500,000 for an individual," the statement read.