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Transport Agency urging checks for disabled Takata airbags

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The NZ Transport Agency is urging the owners of vehicles affected by the global Takata airbag recall to have checks carried out to address the risk of potentially disabled front passenger airbags in some vehicles.

The Transport Agency has recently been made aware that in 2015 some manufacturers in Japan began offering customers the option of disabling front passenger airbags, in response to public concerns in Japan about wait times for replacement airbags as part of the global Takata airbag recall. 

The modifications carried out on vehicles in Japan involved disconnecting the airbag and placing an extra component into the vehicle’s electronics, resulting in the car’s self-diagnostic systems registering the disabled airbag as functional.

Due to the way these modifications were done in Japan, invasive visual checks are the only way of determining with certainty if the airbags have been disabled, as the vehicle’s dashboard warning lights will not identify the disabled airbags.

Since becoming aware of the issue the Transport Agency has urgently amended the entry certification inspection requirements for used imported vehicles from Japan. From tomorrow these vehicles will be required to undergo a visual check of the airbag connection, which in most cases will involve physically dismantling part of the vehicle to sight the airbag connection.

Transport Agency National Delivery Manager Robyn Elston says while it is not currently known how many vehicles with disabled airbags have entered New Zealand, the issue will only affect vehicles subject to the Takata airbag recall, and current information from manufacturers suggests the issue will also be limited to vehicles imported since 2015, when the practice is known to have begun in Japan.

“We are working urgently with individual manufacturers, the Motor Industry Association (MIA), and the Imported Motor Vehicle Industry Association (IMVIA), to gather more information and to identify individual vehicles which are affected. We will publish lists of affected vehicles on our website as the information is gathered from manufacturers.

“While we have taken immediate action to investigate the extent of the issue and to ensure no further vehicles enter the country with disabled airbags, it’s important that potentially affected vehicles already here are checked and that any disabled airbags are reconnected. 

“If you have any immediate concerns, we suggest you contact your vehicle manufacturer’s representative in New Zealand – such as a local dealership – for advice on how to get your vehicle checked.”

Vehicle owners can also ring the NZ Transport Agency for assistance on 0800 108 809, from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.

Further information is available on this site under Recalled Takata airbags — what you need to know.

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