The Takata airbag recall is a seemingly never-ending saga, affecting more than two million cars in Australia and around 100 million vehicles worldwide.
With Takata filing for bankruptcy recently and millions still waiting for their airbags to be replaced, the matter may never be satisfactorily resolved.
The largest automotive recall in history has been going for more than two-and-a-half years, and it’s estimated at least 26 million airbags still need to be replaced and more recall notices continue to be issued.
The Japanese car parts manufacturer was fined $1 billion for hiding evidence that the inflators could possibly explode with excessive force. Along with the fines, three top executives were charged with fabricating test data. The falsified data masked the problem with the inflators.
The airbags, which have a defective inflation device – meaning they are liable to shoot out metal fragments when the airbag deploys – have been implicated in 16 deaths across the globe as well as hundreds of injuries.
A 21-year-old woman became the first Australian victim in April, when she was seriously injured after her defective airbag malfunctioned when it deployed in an accident in Darwin, projecting a fragment of metal into her head.
The recall includes airbags in cars made by 19 different manufacturers between 2002 and 2015.
Even before the company filed for bankruptcy, owners had learned that replacements would take some time – some have been told up to six months. Now they have the added concern of whether replacements will be available at all, and if they will be the ones stuck with the repair bill.
Michelle Krebs, an analyst with Autotrader.com, says the bankruptcy filing was not unexpected and that consumers shouldn’t worry.
“The bankruptcy of Takata should not affect consumers all that much,” she said.
That’s because the Chinese-owned Key Safety Systems of Michigan has purchased Takata’s assets.
“They intend to keep the Takata plants operating and retain employees because they’ve got to keep making airbags and replacement parts for the ones that were recalled,” Ms Krebs said.
But there are a limited number of replacement airbags available.
“Automakers have moved to other suppliers but there aren’t that many suppliers. They also only have only so much capacity to make replacement airbags and they’re making them for new cars too,” Ms Krebs said.
And as the recall of defective airbags expands the wait for replacements will expand too. Added to that is the demand it places on dealership service departments, often the ones asked to perform the replacement.
The good news for consumers and Dealers is that replacement of the defective airbag is free to consumers; the cost will be borne by automakers and/or Takata.
The worry is that the wait has been so long for some that they could forget about booking their car in for a replacement at all.
And the problem for Dealers is it all lands on their doorstep. Please contact us if you have any questions or issues with this recall. We would also be interested in hearing any stories of note on the matter.