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Queensland Fair Trading inspects 20,000 used motor vehicles in national drive to find faulty Takata airbags

5 February 2020

Queensland’s consumer protection regulator the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has joined a national compliance operation and inspected more than 20,000 vehicles across the state in a bid to locate faulty and dangerous Takata airbags.

Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said that as part of the operation, 679 spot checks were conducted at second-hand motor dealers, auction houses and wreckers to ensure these businesses were adhering to the Compulsory Takata Recall Notice and were not simply passing the problem on to unsuspecting consumers.

“A total of 20,390 vehicles were checked and of them 105 were identified as being under active recall, including four which fell under critical recall,” Mr Bauer said.

These 105 vehicles were removed from circulation. OFT have also commenced 13 investigations in relation to vehicles identified to have been supplied under active recall. It is an offence to supply any vehicle under active recall and businesses could face fines of up to $10,000,000.

“The OFT is working in conjunction with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and other state and territory consumer agencies as part of a nation-wide compliance operation to find the vehicles that still have dangerous airbags,” Mr Bauer said.

“Since November 2019, Fair Trading inspectors have been visiting Queensland second-hand car dealers and wreckers to inspect vehicles in their showroom, on their lot and even on the scrapheap.

“These Takata airbags are dangerous because they degrade in heat and humidity.

“If a vehicle with one of these airbags is in an accident, even a minor one, the bag may deploy with so much force it will rupture the airbag inflator housing so that sharp metal fragments shoot out and hit vehicle occupants, potentially injuring or killing them.

“There are a number of vehicle models with Takata airbag inflators that are a critical safety risk and it is essential owners of these vehicles stop driving their vehicles immediately and take urgent steps to have their airbags replaced.”

Under the Takata recall, the cost of replacing these airbags is borne by the manufacturer, not the dealer or the consumer.

“In many instances vehicle manufacturers have taken steps to contact vehicle owners about this issue but the offer of replacement hasn’t been taken up,” Mr Bauer said.

“This may be because the vehicle has been on-sold, scrapped or no longer registered. That’s why we are focusing on the used car and vehicle wrecking markets.

“I would like to strongly urge drivers to check whether their cars are included in the Takata airbag recall by either doing a quick online check at ismyairbagsafe.com.au or checking the active or future recalls lists.”

As at January 2020, there were still more than 256,000 vehicles across Australia that need to have their airbags replaced, with almost 44,000 of those in Queensland, but regulators are particularly concerned about 11,196 of them nationally (2,274 in Queensland) which have been identified as critical.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) has initiated a deregistration scheme which includes a series of escalating notifications being issued to vehicle owners of critical vehicles registered in Queensland.

If affected airbags are not replaced it will lead to suspension and the registration will be ineligible for renewal.

As part of this process TMR recently issued defect notices to over 100 of the highest risk alpha airbag vehicle owners in Queensland. For further information on the scheme, visit the TMR website.

For more information on the recall, visit the Product Safety Australia website.