In 2013, it came to light that millions of vehicles around the world were sold with airbag inflators filled with improperly formulated propellant that was susceptible to contamination by humidity. That flaw meant that upon deployment in a crash, the metal inflator assembly could break apart and spray fragments toward the vehicle’s occupants.
Earlier this year, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported what is believed to be the 23rd death tied to the defective airbags.
Despite the risk posed by these faulty airbag components, many owners of affected cars have yet to have the airbags replaced even though the replacements are being handled through the auto industry’s safety-related recall process, which means automakers cover all of the costs involved.
Last week, Toyota revealed that more than half of all owners of its affected models — including the popular Corolla, Matrix and RAV4 models, among other Toyota and Lexus vehicles — have yet to have the recall repairs carried out, so the company is stepping up its efforts to reach out to those drivers.
Toyota’s new “multi-channel” approach will see the company making phone calls and sending emails and “increasingly insistent” postcards to the last known owners of the vehicles in question, some of which have been on the road for 15 years.
“Canadians have not responded as quickly as we had hoped, so we’re looking to grab their attention,” says Stephen Beatty, Vice President, Corporate at TCI. “The greater the effectiveness of our campaign, the lower the risk of injury, so we’re working hard to have an impact.”
Toyota’s reputation for long-lasting vehicles is well-known, so many of the older models involved in the recall will have passed through several owners’ hands. Buyers of used vehicles are encouraged to register their purchase with the manufacturer’s customer relations department, which makes it easier for the company to communicate safety-related issues like the Takata recall to car owners.