A TOTAL of nearly four million cars are to be compulsorily recalled, as the Turnbull government looks to protect drivers from a global issue of exploding airbags.

The federal government will recall cars with the defective Takata airbags, which have caused dozens of deaths worldwide, including one death in Australia.

Drivers are strongly urged to check whether their motor vehicle has been recalled to replace faulty Takata airbags.

Manufacturers Ford, Holden,Volkswagen and BMW among others, will be forced to replace the airbags for free and as soon as possible.

It may be Australia's largest ever consumer recall, and comes after a voluntary recall late last year that saw 1.7 million cars affected.

More than 100 million cars worldwide have been caught up in the safety issue.



This morning, the Assistant Minister to the Treasurer Michael Sukkar said the government will also identify the exact years and models of the cars impacted.

"The previous voluntary recall has not been satisfactory overall and it's the safety of all Australians which is the first priority of this government," he said. The action comes after federal Labor called for a compulsory recall in August last year.

"The compulsory recall will force manufacturers, dealers, importers and other suppliers to ensure that all dangerous Takata airbags are located and replaced as quickly as possible," Mr Sukkar said.

"The decision to issue a compulsory recall is based on a recommendation by the ACCC following an extensive and thorough safety investigation, which included, importantly, consultation with affected manufacturers, industry stakeholders, international experts and a range of other parties," he said.

The airbags would need to be replaced within two years.

Mr Sukkar said priority would be given to vehicles assessd as high risk based on the car's age, the location of the vehicle, particularly in areas of high heat and humidity, and the location of the airbag within the vehicle would alos be given priority.

Previous Takata airbag recalls have involved components assembled in Mexico, Japan and Thailand, but the new round of recalls would take in certain Takata airbags made in Germany.

Some sections of the car industry are fighting the new round of recalls because they claim there is no evidence that the German-sourced Takata airbags are faulty.

However there have been reports of six German Takata airbags "rupturing" between August 2016 and May 2017 in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Turkey.

According to overseas reports, there have so far been 23 deaths and more than 230 serious injuries worldwide attributed to Takata airbags that can spray shrapnel when deployed in a crash.

The explosive material inside the faulty airbags can deteriorate and become unstable over time, particularly in humid climates.

Documents seen by News Corp Australia claim 1.7 million cars on Australia roads have been fixed so far, there are more than 1 million cars waiting for replacement parts to arrive, and a further 1.3 million - including the 800,000 to 1 million European cars - are expected to be added in the coming months.

In a statement the ACCC said: "The ACCC has provided a final recommendation on the proposed compulsory recall for defective Takata airbags to the Minister with responsibility for consumer affairs, Assistant Minister to the Treasurer Michael Sukkar MP."

Ahead of the government's announcement today, the ACCC urged motorists to visit productsafety.gov.au to check if their car has been recalled and, if it has, to contact their dealer or manufacturer to have unsafe Takata airbags replaced free of charge.


Consumer advocacy Choice group today welcomed the mandatory recall.

Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey said the recall affects millions of the potentially lethal Takata airbags.

"We have been calling for a mandatory recall following our investigation last year which found car makers had been downplaying the risk to the public," he said.

"We look forward to seeing the detail of the mandatory recall but hope it will finally mean consumers with these dodgy Takata airbags will be given as access to quick repairs, refunds and loan vehicles."

Mr Godfrey said it was vital drivers checked via the product safety website to see whether their cars were caught up in the recall.

Last year, Choice warned Australian drivers they could be sitting behind the wheel of "ticking time bombs" because several car makers had refitted vehicles with Takata airbags, despite links to 18 deaths worldwide.

It also slammed the product and the companies which failed to disclose that the device could kill drivers.

During its annual award ceremony last year, Choice awarded a Shonky to Honda, Toyota, Lexus, BMW and Mazda for failing to let consumers know about the serious and deadly device.

Choice chief executive Alan Kirkland said out of all the awards handed out, this was by far the most serious.

"Takata is the worst (of the winners) because this is a product that can kill," he said.

Choice said manufacturers had a duty of care to ensure their products were safe and refitting cars with like-for-like parts put lives at risk.

The ACCC launched an investigation after Choice raised the concerns.


- with debra.killalea

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