If you haven’t heard of the enormous Takata airbag recall that has affected car brands in Australia for more than a year, you must have been living under a rock: Honda, among other brands that installed potentially defective airbags in their cars for many years, have used social media, text messaging, letter mail-outs and even door-knocking to get owners of affected vehicles back to dealerships for the free – and critical – repair.
And the repair really is critical. The heart of the Takata issue is that the airbag inflators – the parts that make the airbag expand after a crash – can fail over time. If this happens, in the event of a crash, instead of the airbag inflating as normal, the inflators may instead propel metal fragments towards the driver and passengers, hard enough to puncture the roof with a strong chance of death resulting.
There has already been one death in Australia caused by a Takata airbag inflator, fitted in a 2007 Honda CR-V. Globally, there have been at least 19 confirmed deaths due to the defective Takata airbags. Owners of Honda cars can check whether their vehicle is fitted with defective airbags and needs a repair through this link.
Many Honda owners have listened to the increasingly urgent messaging around the recall. The scale of the problem for Honda Australia is enormous – there are over 436,000 Honda cars on our roads that were fitted with Takata airbags. Almost 400,000 of these have now been fixed, but there are still 44,719 Hondas out there that remain not fixed and still fitted with potentially deadly airbags.
In an effort to get this final 10% of Honda owners into dealerships for the free fix, the brand has turned to a name-and-shame strategy. A list of the 10 post codes with the worst rates of repair turnout. All ten areas are in Sydney or Melbourne, with south-western Sydney the worst of the lost. The 10 post codes with the most Hondas that are NOT fixed are 2166, 2170, 2200, 2144, 3021, 2145, 2176, 3029, 2165, and 3030.
The list of suburbs is at the bottom of the list. If you live in one of them and drive any Honda – or if you know somebody who has a Honda, no matter where they live – ask them if they’ve checked if their car is included in the recall. “It doesn’t matter how old your Honda is. All Honda owners should check their vehicle and if it’s part of the Takata recall, then make arrangements to have the airbags replaced,” said Stephen Collins, director of Honda Australia.
Despite the scale of Honda’s messaging, in the Cabramatta area of Sydney, there are still more than 850 Hondas with potentially defective airbags that have not been fixed. In Melbourne’s Albanville area, there are 551 unfixed Hondas. In the western Melbourne suburbs around Werribee, non-fixed Hondas number more than 950.
Mr Collins attributed several factors to why these areas have such a high number of unrepaired Hondas. “Among them would be the age of the car, the vehicle not being known to our database and ultimately…where English is not the first language in the household.”
Almost all of the unrepaired vehicles are not serviced at Honda dealerships. Among owners who service their car with Honda, 99% have had the potentially deadly airbags replaced already. The vast majority of the remaining vehicles that need to be fixed are serviced with third parties, leading to difficulties in locating current information about the owners.
Honda have a dedicated call centre (1800 785 216, in Australia) dealing only with repairs for defective airbags with the ability to provide service in 160 languages; 10 languages on Honda’s website provide more detail on the repairs.
Honda airbag repair hotline: 1800 785 216
Check whether your Honda needs to be fixed: honda.com.au/recall
The top 10 post codes in Australia for UNREPAIRED Hondas with potentially defective airbag inflators
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