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Only a fraction of the 1.1 million cars on Australia roads with airbags that can spray shrapnel have been fixed, new figures show.
More than 1.1 million cars in Australia are now affected by the world’s biggest automotive recall for defective airbags that can spray shrapnel in a crash.
In the past fortnight, Honda, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota have increased the number and range of vehicles caught up in the recall for defective airbags which have so far claimed eight lives overseas.
No incidents have been reported in Australia, but most brands are struggling to replace the potentially deadly airbags, with waiting times now stretched into next year.
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.
Takata found 265 of 30,000 recalled airbags had ruptured.
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.
Mazda was the latest brand to add to its Takata airbag recall tally in Australia, adding 66,837 vehicles to bring its total to just over 150,000.
The Mazda recall includes the popular BT-50 ute (the previous 2007 to 2011 model), which is made on the same Thailand production line as the Ford Ranger.
Ford Australia says the previous generation Ranger ute built in the same period is not affected.
The US version of the Ford Ranger pick-up is affected by the Takata recall, but that model was not sold in Australia and uses different components, the car maker said.
Last week, Nissan added 41,373 Navara utes to bring its tally to 223,520 vehicles locally, and says it has fixed between 20 and 40 per cent of its vehicles, depending on the model.
The week before, Honda added 71,000 vehicles to bring its total of affected cars to 421,000 – by far the highest number in Australia and approximately four out of every five Hondas sold during the recall period.
Honda Australia Director, Stephen Collins, told News Corp Australia at the time the company was 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.
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.”
Do you think the Takata airbag recall is being handled well by carmakers? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Takata airbag recall tally by brand
Total so far: 1,135,318
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 Y61 Patrol 1997 to 2010
Nissan T30 X-TRAIL 2001 to 2007
Nissan A33 Maxima 1999 to 2003
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