High numbers of faulty Takata airbags remain in regions

By Talisa Kupenga

Government figures show more than 36,000 vehicles are estimated to still have faulty Takata alpha-type airbags and those in regional communities have high numbers in need of repair.

Around 17,000 affected vehicles are in Auckland and in places including Northland, Rotorua, Hawke's Bay and Tauranga the tally can climb up to more than 900 vehicles respectively.

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi wants motorists to check their vehicles and access a free replacement before Christmas.

“We know many will be planning their summer trips now.  In New Zealand we have higher crash rates than we have seen before so it’s more important than ever that all vehicles have safe airbags.”

At this stage there have been no deaths or injuries due to the faulty airbags reported in New Zealand.  However, there are reports of at least 23 deaths and more than 230 injuries worldwide.

“If they deploy or malfunction they can explode and throw shrapnel into the faces in the passengers in the car.  Obviously we don’t want that," says Faafoi, “We are aware of deaths overseas in Australia and America where they have deployed and caused death.  We want to make sure we keep people safe.”

Figures provided by MBIE and NZTA show the number of yet-to-be repaired vehicles nationwide and include major centres like Christchurch (3006), Hamilton (1561), Wellington (1348) Tauranga (927), Dunedin (595) and Queenstown-Lakes (228), as well as places like Whangarei (526), Waikato (493), Rotorua (477), Porirua (445), Lower Hutt (728), Hastings (358), Western BOP (342) and the Far North (411).

Smaller townships and districts, including Gisborne, Opotiki, Wairoa, Carterton, Tararua, Kawerau, Gore, Otorohanga and Mackenzie among others have tallies under 100.

Faafoi says, “If a vehicle is affected, consumers will get their Alpha airbags replaced at no cost, no matter if the vehicle was purchased privately, through a dealer, new or second-hand.  I urge anyone who has received a letter from their car’s distributor to act on it immediately and get their airbags replaced.”

The initial compulsory recall launched April and 60-percent of vehicles have been repaired to date.  NZTA has a list of car models affected which includes BMW, Honda, Isuzu, Lexus, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota models.

Motorists can check if their vehicle is affected by entering their number place online at the RightCar website.