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Deadly Takata airbag recall nears 1.2 million in Australia

Almost 1.2 million cars in Australia now affected by world’s biggest automotive recall for Takata airbags.

Only a fraction of the 1.2 million cars on Australia roads with airbags that can spray shrapnel have been fixed, new figures show.

The number of cars in Australia affected by the world’s biggest automotive recall for deadly airbags that can spray shrapnel in a crash has neared 1.2 million overnight.

Nissan added another 41,154 Tiida hatchbacks and sedans made from 2006 to 2012 to bring its tally to 264,674, the second highest of any brand after Honda and ahead of Toyota.

However, because of the vast number of defective airbags globally -- which have been linked directly to 12 deaths overseas but none reported in Australia -- only a fraction of the cars have been fixed.

Honda says it has fixed 146,000 of its 421,351 cars so far -- one in four -- at a rate of 5000 cars per week.

Nissan says 40 per cent -- or close to 100,000 cars – have been fixed so far.

Toyota Australia says it does not have a tally of the cars fixed so far but repaired 16,162 of its 258,000 cars last month.

 There are close to 900,000 cars on Australian roads that have not had their airbags replaced.

The number of cars affected among the Honda, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota brands have steadily increased since the scandal broke in November 2008.

It still means there are close to 900,000 cars on Australian roads that have not had their airbags replaced, and the waiting list is destined to stretch into 2017.

The faulty airbags do not deploy randomly, but there is a chance they can spray shrapnel if activated in a crash.

Cars in humid climates such as Australia are worst affected. 

More than 53 million cars are being recalled globally, including 34 million in the US alone.

Subsequent internal testing by airbag manufacturer Takata, which supplies approximately 20 per cent of the world’s airbags, found 265 of 30,000 recalled airbags had ruptured -- or slightly less than 1 per cent.

Based on these estimates, that means approximately 9700 cars in Australia are driving around with a ticking time bomb -- if the airbag is activated in a crash.

Because of the vast number of airbags involved, most brands have replaced the safety devices in less than 5 per cent of affected vehicles.

So far, authorities in the US and Australia have not ordered the recalled cars off the road.

Honda Australia Director, Stephen Collins, told News Corp Australia is fixing 5000 cars per week across its network of 107 dealers.

“This is unprecedented for us and shows how seriously we are taking this issue,” said Mr Collins.

The Honda executive said the company is working closely with Australian government authorities and he is “confident” no-one has been killed or seriously injured as a result of a faulty Takata airbag.

When the Takata airbag recall went global in May last year, the executive director of the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce, Geoff Gwilym, told News Corp Australia motorists “should not attempt to disable, deactivate or remove airbags”.

Mr Gwilym said disabling an airbag is “more likely to contribute to the damage caused by an accident, in the same way that you are at greater risk if you do not wear a seatbelt”.

“Airbags should never be tampered with by motorists or unqualified people,” said Mr Gwilym.

“Airbags are not a discretionary item of equipment and cannot be simply turned off and on again. The mechanism is technically sophisticated and forms an important part of the vehicle’s engineering.”

Takata airbag recall tally by brand

Honda 421,000
Nissan 264,674
Toyota 258,000
Mazda 150,000
BMW 43,734
Subaru 33,556
Chrysler 5508
Total so far: 1,183,698 (as of 17 May 2016)
Takata airbags: the recalled models so far
Chrysler 300C sedan 2005 to 2007
BMW 3 Series 1997 to 2006
Honda Jazz 2004 to 2009
Honda Accord 2001 to 2006
Honda Accord Euro 2004 to 2007
Honda CR-V 2002 to 2008
Honda Civic 2004 to 2005
Honda Civic 2006 to 2011 (added 25 February 2016)
Honda Legend 2007 to 2012 (added 25 February 2016)
Honda Jazz 2012 (added 25 February 2016)
Honda MDX 2003 to 2006
Lexus SC430 2001 to 2003
Mazda6 2002 to 2007
Mazda6 2006 to 2009
Mazda RX-8 2002 onwards (added 8 March 2016)
Mazda B2500 ute 2002 onwards (added 8 March 2016)
Mazda BT-50 ute 2007 to 2011 (added 8 March 2016)
Mercedes-Benz SL and SLK 2014
Nissan N16 Pulsar 2000 to 2006
Nissan D22 Navara 1997 to 2004
Nissan D40 Navara 2008 to 2014 (added 1 March 2016)
Nissan Y61 Patrol 1997 to 2010
Nissan T30 X-TRAIL 2001 to 2007
Nissan A33 Maxima 1999 to 2003
Nissan Tiida 2006 to 2012 (added 17 May 2016)
Subaru Impreza 2004 to 2007
Toyota Echo 2003 to 2005
Toyota RAV4 2003 to 2005
Toyota Corolla 2003 to 2007
Toyota Yaris 2005 to 2007
Toyota Avensis 2003 to 2007