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Takata airbag pandemic keeps on rolling

Causing a Rukus: The Toyota Rukus is one of five Toyota models caught up in the latest round of Takata-related airbag recalls.

119,000 Australian Toyotas recalled in latest bout of Takata-related airbag faults

4 Apr 2017

TOYOTA Australia has announced a recall of 119,000 vehicles as part of the drawn-out Takata airbag scandal, with the latest call back affecting Corolla, Yaris and Rukus models built between 2010 and 2012, as well as older Echo and RAV4 models from 2002-03.

It is the second large-scale recall Toyota has been forced to make in the last six months, after recalling 179,710 examples of the Corolla, Yaris and Avensis Verso built in the late-2000s.

111,000 of the vehicles impacted are the newer Corolla, Yaris and Rukus, and relates to a problem with the passenger front airbag.

As reported, the airbag inflators are prone to moisture intrusion over time – particularly in humid environments – which can make the inflator assembly prone to rupture in the event of an accident.

If that happens, shrapnel can be shot into the cabin, increasing the risk of injury to occupants.

Owners of affected vehicles will be notified by mail in the coming weeks explaining the situation, and when parts become available, will be notified again.

Upon receiving the notification of parts availability, owners can check their vehicle into their preferred Toyota dealer for a free fix, which will take between one and three hours.

The other 8000 recalls are for the RAV4 small SUV built between July 29 and August 19, 2003, and the Echo light hatch built between December 2002 and December 2003 and relates to an ineffective fix of a previous recall.

The driver’s airbags in the Echo and RAV4 have been replaced previously, but the replacement unit did not contain any desiccant (drying agent) which meant that they were still prone to moisture intrusion over time, increasing the risk of rupture.

Toyota assures owners that the airbags going into the second replacement will contain a drying agent, and that the fix will take about an hour.

As with the passenger airbag recall, owners will be contacted via mail in the coming weeks and can book in for a fix at their preferred Toyota dealer once parts become available.

There have been no recorded instances of airbag ruptures in any of the recalled vehicles.

Fortunes have gone from bad to worse for Japanese airbag manufacturer Takata, who just last month plead guilty to a felony charge in a US federal court, and was forced to hand over $US1 billion ($A1.3b) as part of a settlement deal with the justice department which includes compensation for victims of the inflators and car-makers.

Fines could have potentially totalled up to $US1.5b, but the judge overseeing the case opted not to impose the full amount to ensure Takata did not go bankrupt, which would delay the replacement of millions of faulty inflators.

Their airbags have resulted in at least 16 deaths worldwide – mostly in Honda and Acura vehicles – as well as a global recall number that now totals over 30 million across a number of manufacturers.

Toyota has not been implicated in any fatal airbag ruptures.

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