Recall wrap: Fresh airbag trouble surfaces

Volkswagen the first local company to recall cars due to potential failure of TRW airbags

Volkswagen Group Australia is the first car company to issue a local recall involving potential problems with TRW airbags that are similar to the infamous Takata airbags that have been linked to 26 deaths and more than 300 reported injuries worldwide.

Like the Takata units, the TRW airbags fitted to the affected Volkswagens use ammonium nitrate as a propellant. That propellant has since been discredited as unsuitable for use in airbags, but was conceived as a cost-effective solution for car companies and parts suppliers such as Takata and TRW.

The Australian TRW airbag recall, listed in the latest information from the Australian Competition & Consumers Commission, covers 132 examples of the Volkswagen Golf, Passat and Transporter built between May and October 2002 and sold nationally.

According to the Volkswagen recall notice published on May 23, the dangers relate to degrading propellant in the driver-side frontal TRW airbag inflator that is brought on by high humidity and temperature fluctuations that may cause the airbag to “deploy with too much force in a collision”.

“This may result in metal shrapnel entering the vehicle cabin at high speed, striking vehicle occupants and potentially causing severe injury or death,” says the recall notice.

While Volkswagen Australia is contacting all known owners of the affected vehicles, anyone who is in doubt should contact their nearest Volkswagen dealer at the earliest opportunity.

A TRW problem relating to failure of airbags to deploy in an accident is being investigated in the USA by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. TRW was bought by German car parts maker ZF in 2014.

For further information on the Volkswagen airbag recall, consumers can contact the toll-free Volkswagen Recall Campaign Hotline on 1800 504 076 (Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 8:00pm AEST) or via email at recalls@myvw.com.au.

Mercedes-Benz also makes the latest round of safety recalls, with C-Class, GLC and E-Class models affected and C-Class vehicles accounting for 884 of 896 affected cars.

Applying to C-Class vehicles sold nationally between August 1, 2014 and December 23, 2015, and from March 1, 2018 and August 30, 2019, the issue concerns lock nuts in the steering system “with possible production deviations” that could potentially break and “increase the risk of an accident.”

Customers are advised to contact their most conveniently-located Mercedes-Benz dealer to arrange for a free-of-charge repair. A list of dealers can be found by clicking here.

Audi has also issued recall notices for 125 of its A6 and A7 Sportback models to address potential problems with a the auxiliary heater element in the air-conditioner, in which an electrical connector may have been incorrectly plugged in, risking “smoulder damage or potentially a fire.”

Although the company is contacting all known owners of affected vehicles, Audi advises consumers to get in touch with the most convenient dealer to arrange inspection and repair. This can be actioned by phoning Audi Australia’s 24-hour toll-free number 1800 50 2834.

The 125 affected cars were manufactured between July and October 2014 and sold nationally. Though the alpha-numeric progression does not necessarily embrace all numbers in sequence, owners should look for VIN numbers ranging from WAUZZZ4G4EN177201 to WAUZZZ4G8EN206411.

Fiat-Chrysler Australia is also recalling 313 Abarth 124 Spiders sold nationally between October 1, 2016 and May 9, 2019 to update “incorrect software” in the transmission control module.

Apparently it has the potential to engage first gear if the vehicle is moving with the shift lever in the neutral position. This, according to FCA’s advice, could affect safety “for the vehicle occupants and other road users.”

The company will contact owners, advising them to contact their most convenient dealer to arrange a free-of-charge software update. A list of Fiat Abarth dealers can be found on here, while owners wanting to know more can contact FCA Australia on 1800 870 720.

Also on the recall campaign trail is Jaguar Land Rover, which is notifying owners of a “greater than expected” variance in CO2 emissions in 953 versions of the 2.0-litre petrol-powered Land Rover Discovery Sport, Range Rover Evoque, Range Rover Velar and Range Rover Sport, in which “requited emission standards” may not be met.

Land Rover will contact affected owners by letter to arrange for an authorised repairer to perform a software update. National Land Rover dealers can be located by visiting www.landrover.com.au and owners may contact the company direct on 1300 787 803.

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