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A new proposal could see a compulsory recall of all vehicles with defective Takata airbags installed, following an ACCC safety investigation.

The ACCC’s investigation established that Takata airbag inflators without a desiccant (or drying agent) or with a calcium sulphate desiccant have a design flaw and over time the ammonium nitrate propellant can degrade, leading to potential misdeployment of the airbags and a risk of causing serious injury or death to vehicle occupants.

Approximately 2.49 million vehicles have already been voluntarily recalled by suppliers in Australia to have airbag inflators replaced since the recalls began in 2009. However, the overall replacement rate for airbags in vehicles subject to voluntarily recall is only around 38 per cent (approximately 955,500) and in the case of one major manufacturer is only 17 per cent.

A population of older airbag inflators (called ‘alpha’ airbags) are considered to pose the highest safety risk. There were around 150,000 of these recalled and there are still 51,000 yet to be replaced.

The proposed compulsory recall will extend to all vehicles which are subject to an existing voluntary recall, as well as to approximately 877,000 additional vehicles which have not yet been recalled. This number may increase as the ACCC’s investigation continues.

Consumers are strongly urged to check whether their vehicle has been recalled to replace defective Takata airbags.