Consumer group CHOICE says car companies’ ongoing failure to protect the public from unsafe airbags reaffirms the need to tighten Australian Consumer Law.
CHOICE has welcomed the compulsory recall of millions of potentially lethal Takata airbags, and is calling on the Federal Government to beef up Australian Consumer Law to make it explicitly clear that it’s illegal to sell unsafe products.
The compulsory recall comes in the wake of an ongoing CHOICE investigation that found car companies failed to alert consumers to potentially deadly safety issues, such as:
- Failure to disclose like-for-like replacements of airbags
- Failure to warn about the heightened risks posed by deadly Alpha inflators
- Failure to replace airbags within a reasonable period of time
“The Takata airbag voluntary recall saw car companies put their own interests ahead of consumer safety,” says CHOICE head of media Tom Godfrey.
“While we welcome the compulsory recall, it’s time the Federal Government strengthened Australian Consumer Law through the mandating of a general safety provision, strong recall requirements and bigger financial penalties.
“It’s appalling car companies have been able to get away with making like-for-like replacements of dodgy airbags without notifying consumers of the ongoing risk for years. Many also failed to disclose the heightened risk consumers face from ‘alpha’ inflators, which rupture in up to 50% of cases .
CHOICE is urging consumers to check if their car has one of the 2.3 million airbags that still haven’t been fixed, even if they’ve had a replacement.
“To keep you and your family safe, it’s vital you check productsafety.gov.au and contact the manufacturer to see if your vehicle has been caught up in Australia’s biggest automotive recall,” says Mr Godfrey.
“From July, if your car is under active recall, contact the supplier and arrange to have the airbag replaced immediately for free.
“You may be entitled to a loan car if the repair takes longer than 24 hours, your nearest repairer is more than 250 kilometres away or if you are elderly or have a disability.
“If you own a car with alpha inflators, you should not drive it as these are particularly dangerous. Call your supplier immediately and arrange for them to tow your vehicle to repair it.
“The failure of car companies to consistently provide effective remedies over many years highlights how broken Australia’s recall system is. Right now, to meet their legal obligations under the Consumer Law, businesses are free to run a recall however they want.
“Clearly some car companies have been running the Takata airbag recall terribly. We want businesses to publicly report on how their recall is progressing. If this information was publicly available, businesses would be held accountable and encouraged to run better recalls.”
For further information on the compulsory recall and CHOICE’s airbag investigation visit: www.choice.com.au
Join CHOICE’s campaigns calling for a general safety provison and a better recall system.
Media contact: Tom Godfrey, CHOICE, Head of Media and Spokesperson: 0430 172 669
- Check if your car is currently under recall by looking on your car manufacturer or dealer’s website or productsafety.gov.au using your car’s VIN (17 digit identifying number).
- Contact your supplier as soon as possible to arrange a replacement. If your car is listed as having an Alpha inflator, do not drive it. Call your supplier immediately and arrange for them to tow your vehicle to repair it.
- The supplier must arrange a free replacement within a specified timeframe. This timeframe must be announced by 1 July 2018. Once the timeframe is published, if your car is listed as under ‘active recall’ you can get a replacement airbag immediately.
- In some cases, you will be entitled to a hire car including if the repair takes longer than 24 hours; you are elderly, infirm, or have a disability; your nearest repairer is more than 250km away; or you live on an island without access to an authorised repairer.
- Not all vehicles may be recalled straight away, consumers can subscribe to receive updates about future recalls via productsafety.gov.au