November 10, 2016 9:47 am

Toyota customer driven to frustration waiting for replacement airbag

ABOVE: A record setting recall affecting vehicles around the world has become a major ordeal for a B.C. couple. Consumer reporter Anne Drewa has the details of their long battle.

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A Vancouver Island man says he’s been driving his car in fear for 15 months.

Geoff Fawcett says he’s been waiting to get his 2007 Toyota Corolla repaired after receiving a recall notice from Toyota Canada in July 2015. His car needs a replacement airbag, part of the massive worldwide recall of defective Takata airbags. The notice warns of the front passenger airbag inflator potentially rupturing, sending metal shrapnel that could result in injury, even death.

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To minimize the risk, Toyota Canada is recommending passengers sit in the back seat until notified.

“I feel very unsafe. You don’t know if you’ll have a little bump and metal fragments are going to come out at you. I mean they could even come my way as well as the passenger,”  says Fawcett.

A total of 12 carmakers have had to recall vehicles because of faulty Takata airbags. To date, over 4.3 million Takata airbag inflators have been subject to a recall in Canada. Meantime, U.S. safety regulators have linked 11 deaths in the U.S. to Takata airbags and 16 worldwide.

So far, no reported deaths or injuries in Canada. The defect is said to more likely happen in vehicles exposed to high humidity and temperatures for long periods of time.

Consumer Matters did contact Toyota Canada to ask why the repairs were taking so long. In a statement Toyota Canada said:

“although we cannot share specific timelines, rollout of replacement parts for our customers have started in Canada…recalls are being conducted according to priorities determined by the level of risk associated with the involved vehicles.”

George Iny with The Automobile Protection Association says “the likelihood of an unintended airbag deployment or a deployment with too much force is considered remote in Canada.” Still, he says Toyota should be doing more for its customers. “I think it would have helped if we had more clarity with what they were prepared to do.”

Transport Canada says it’s in contact with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to ensure Canadians have the latest information on vehicles affected by Takata recalls.

That’s little comfort to Geoff Fawcett who continues to wait and drive in frustration while he waits to hear from his dealer that the replacement parts are available. “It’s going on too long, it’s not a lot of fun,” says Fawcett.

To find out if your vehicle is affected by a Takata recall visit Transport Canada’s motor vehicle safety recall database: www.tc.gc.ca/recalls

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