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Transport Agency urging vehicle owners to check online database for disabled airbag notices

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The NZ Transport Agency is urging the owners of used Toyota vehicles imported from Japan since 2015 to check the rightcar.govt.nz/recalls website to see if the front passenger airbags in their vehicles have been disconnected.

Toyota NZ has provided the Transport Agency with a list of 7,560 vehicles currently registered in New Zealand which have had front passenger airbags disconnected in Japan.

The Transport Agency has uploaded the information for all of these vehicles on the rightcar.govt.nz/recalls website, which is searchable by registration plate. When the registration plate of a vehicle which is known to have had the passenger airbag disconnected is entered, the notice below will be displayed along with other information for the vehicle.

The Transport Agency has also provided Toyota NZ with the owner details for these vehicles and Toyota is contacting the owners directly with information on how to have the airbags reconnected or replaced.

The Transport Agency is urgently seeking the same information from the NZ representatives of other Japanese manufacturers, and this information will be added to the online Rightcar database as soon as it is available.

What is the issue?

Toyota NZ has informed the NZ Transport Agency that the practice of disabling airbags on their vehicles in Japan began in 2015 in response to public concerns in Japan about wait times for replacement airbags as part of the global Takata airbag recall. The Transport Agency is seeking confirmation from other manufacturers to determine when the practice began for other makes.

The modifications, which are legal in Japan, involve 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 are carried out 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.

What is being done about it?

Since becoming aware of the issue the Transport Agency has urgently amended the entry certification inspection requirements for used imported vehicles from Japan. From Wednesday October 5 these vehicles have been required to undergo a visual check of the airbag connection, which in most cases involves physically dismantling part of the vehicle to sight the airbag connection.

The Transport Agency is working 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.

In addition to informing the public about the need to get vehicles checked and making information available on the Rightcar website, the Transport Agency is also developing a process which will allow WoF inspectors to identify vehicles on the Transport Agency’s database where the airbags are known to have been disconnected. These vehicles will not pass the WoF and the owner will be advised to have the airbag reconnected. This process is expected to be in place for WoF inspections from this week.

This will provide a further check in the system to ensure vehicles with airbags that are known to have been disabled are addressed so that they comply with New Zealand requirements.

How do I know if my vehicle is affected and what should I do?

The issue will only affect vehicles subject to the Takata airbag recall.

Vehicle owners can visit the government’s recalls website to check if their vehicle is subject to the Takata airbag recall.

Vehicle owners can also check the rightcar.govt.nz/recalls website, where information on vehicles with disabled passenger airbags is being uploaded as it is provided by manufacturers. The Rightcar website is searchable by registration plate.

Anyone with immediate concerns is advised to contact their vehicle manufacturer’s representative in New Zealand – such as a local dealership – for advice on how to get their vehicle checked.

Further information is available on this site under Recalled Takata airbags — what you need to know, and vehicle owners can ring the NZ Transport Agency 0800 108 809 from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.

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