Compulsory Takata Alpha type Airbag Recall - Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find out if my vehicle is affected?

If your vehicle has been affected by the compulsory recall, your vehicle supplier will contact you. This may already have happened. They will arrange a free replacement of the airbag when it initiates recall action for your vehicle. Free means you won’t have to pay for replacement parts or labour.

Check if your car is affected: 

You will need to know your licence plate or your vehicle identification number (‘VIN’) which is a unique 17 character serial number that can be found on your vehicle or in documentation (such as registration documentation).

If your vehicle is not currently under active recall, it is important to check again in the future as recall action may later be initiated for your car. Make sure your contact information is up to date – you can do this online on NZTA website here (you will need your driver licence).

What should I do if my vehicle is affected?

You will receive a letter from the New Zealand brand distributor for your vehicle when they have the parts to do the work.

To help ensure they can contact you make sure your confirmation details are up to date on the NZTA website here  (you will need your driver licence).  

Will the repair cost me anything?

No. You should not have to pay to get your vehicle fixed under a recall. The cost (parts and labour) to fix a vehicle should be borne by the vehicle supplier.

What if I bought my vehicle in a private sale?

If you purchased your vehicle privately, you are still able to get the recall repair done free (parts and labour). Make sure you complete the change of ownership documentation and that your contact detials are up to date. You can update your contat detials here NZTA website here  (you will need your driver licence).

Check if your car is affected: 

Is my vehicle safe?

There have been around 100 million vehicles supplied worldwide with affected Takata airbags with 19 reported fatalities and around 200 incidents where Takata airbags have not deployed correctly. New Zealand has not had any reported fatalities or serious incidents related to Takata airbag failures. In the interim it will be safe to drive your vehicle but it is important that affected airbags are replaced as soon as possible.

What should I do if my vehicle is recalled?

This is very important – You are strongly advised to respond to this recall notification. If your vehicle is under active recall, contact the supplier as soon as possible and make an appointment to get the defective airbag replaced. You will not be charged for the replacement (parts or labour).

Contact information for your supplier is included in your recall letter, on the supplier’s webpage and on our product recall listing for your vehicle.

You should also ensure that your supplier has your correct contact details. You can check and update your contact details online on NZTA website here (you will need your driver licence). 

Which vehicles are the highest priorities for airbag replacement?

Under this compulsory recall, replacements of the Alpha type Takata airbags must be scheduled as a priority because they pose the highest risk of misdeploying in a crash.

Does this only affect old/used/certain vehicles?

The majority of affected vehicles are older, as the Alpha types were an earlier model of Takata airbags. This  means there are a higher number of used vehicles affected than new ones.

What is an Alpha type Takata airbag?

Alpha airbags are a subset of Takata airbags that were installed in some vehicles supplied in New Zealand somewhere between 1999 and 2006. Used import vehicles may cover a wider manufacture date range. Alpha airbags have been identified as posing a significantly higher safety risk than other Takata inflators because they have been shown to rupture more frequently. 

It is critical that owners of vehicles with Alpha airbags take immediate steps to have the airbag inflators replaced because of the significant risk of injury or death associated with these inflators.

Should I disconnect my airbags while I’m waiting for a repair?

No. Disconnecting the airbag is not legal in New Zealand. If you are involved in a car crash, it is far more likely that your Takata airbag will perform properly and protect you than it will mis-deploy and cause harm. Airbags are part of a wider system of safety measures built into vehicles and a disconnected airbag will also compromise the effectiveness of other parts of that system, such as seatbelts. In addition, if the airbags were disconnected then the vehicle would be considered unroadworthy and cannot be registered or insured. 

Can the replacement parts be shipped to my local mechanic for installation?

No. Airbags contain explosive materials and are dangerous to handle. There are restrictions around transporting them and they should only be fitted to vehicles by suitably qualified mechanics. Replacement of the airbag will usually be done at a dealer in the supplier’s network. However, in special circumstances, a supplier may authorise a third party to conduct the replacement free of charge to the consumer

Who is responsible for getting my vehicle repaired?

A supplier under the compulsory recall includes any person or business that has supplied an affected vehicle in trade. A supplier includes the NZ importer, wholesaler, distributor, and retailer. For this recall the NZ vehicle brand owner have taken responsibility for the recall even for vehicles which they are not responsible for under the compulsory recall.

What about second-hand vehicles?

Regardless of whether you bought your vehicle brand new or second hand, from a dealer or privately, you are entitled to receive a replacement airbag free of charge (parts and labour).

To ensure that you are notified if your vehicle is subject to the Alpha type Takata airbag recall, you should make sure your ownership details on the Motor Vehicle Register are up to date.  You can check and update your contact details online on NZTA website here (you will need your driver licence).

If your vehicle is affected by the recall, and you sell your car privately before getting it fixed, you should advise the new owner that the vehicle has an affected Takata airbag that will need to be replaced. It’s important to complete the change of ownership documentation.

Does the recall affect my vehicle registration?

The recall of the airbag in a vehicle does not make the vehicle unroadworthy or unregisterable. However, NZTA may prevent you from getting a Warrant of Fitness in future if the repairs aren’t completed.

What should I do if I imported a vehicle for myself?

The compulsory recall only applies to suppliers in New Zealand. If you own an enthusiast or specialty vehicle that is not generally available for sale in New Zealand (sometimes known as a grey or parallel import), you should contact the manufacturer’s head office in the country the vehicle was imported from to check whether it has an affected Takata airbag that requires replacement.

If you purchased the vehicle directly from an overseas company and imported it into New Zealand on your own behalf, you should contact the vehicle manufacturer’s New Zealand office to see if they can arrange a replacement.

What about other Takata airbags?

The recall of these is still underway as a voluntary recall at this stage. The focus of the compulsory recall is on the higher risk Alpha type airbags and getting these replaced as a matter of priority. Suppliers will be scheduling and dealing with the replacement of the other Takata airbags alongside the work on Alpha type Takata airbags although the volumes and supply of replacement airbags may mean this takes longer than the period that has been defined for the Alpha type Takata airbags.

What penalties are there for suppliers who do not comply?

Under the Fair Trading Act 1986, if a motor trader did not comply with the requirements of the compulsory recall then they could be prosecuted and run the risk of a $600,000 fine. If a trader tried to import a non-compliant vehicle this would in effect be a restricted item and subject to action by the New Zealand Customs Service.

What's the difference between the compulsory and voluntary recalls?

Voluntary recalls are initiated by the suppliers. A compulsory recall is ordered by the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

A number of vehicle suppliers have already voluntarily recalled vehicles fitted with defective Takata airbags in New Zealand. The compulsory recall requires all suppliers of vehicles with defective Alpha type Takata airbags to recall all affected vehicles in New Zealand.

The compulsory recall specifies the manner and timing of the recall activity, which may be different to recall activity under the voluntary recalls. Suppliers may face penalties if they don’t meet the requirements in the compulsory recall. A compulsory recall doesn’t compel consumers to bring in their vehicles for replacement of the airbag, but it does require vehicle suppliers to undertake various obligations which will facilitate the recall and replacement of affected Alpha type Takata airbags.

Do consumers have more rights under the compulsory recall?

The compulsory recall requires all suppliers of vehicles with defective Alpha type Takata airbags to recall the vehicles and specifies the timeframe for replacement of the airbag. Consumers can have confidence that if their vehicle is affected, it will be fixed within a specified timeframe.

Suppliers may face penalties if they fail to comply with a requirement of the compulsory recall.
Importantly, consumers still have rights and remedies and suppliers have obligations under the New Zealand Consumer Law.

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