Some 150,000 Japanese cars owned by UK motorists have been recalled after a fault was discovered with their front passenger seat airbags.
The move is part of a global recall of 3.4m vehicles by Honda, Nissan and Toyota but the car firms were quick to reassure drivers today that they weren’t at risk.
The firms said the airbag will not inflate accidentally, only in the event of an accident. There have been no reported problems in the UK so far and just two incidents in the US and three in Japan when airbags at the front seat next to the driver either failed to inflate or over-inflated when a crash occurred. There have been no reported injuries resulting from the fault.
Toyota is recalling 76,000 UK cars but said that the repairs would be undertaken by local dealers and would take just between an hour to two and half hours, depending on the vehicle.
The affected models have all been supplied with front passenger seat airbags by the Japanese component supplier Takata.
Toyota cars recalled are the Corolla, Yaris, Avensis, Avensis Verso, Picnic, Camry and Alesix SC430. The vehicles with the possibly defective airbag will have "X" to "54" registration plate identifiers.
The 59,058 Nissan models affected were built between 2000 and 2004. The vehicles recalled are X-Trail, Patrol, Almera, Almera Tino, Terrano II and the 4x4 Pickup.
Honda, which is recalling 15,475 vehicles, said in a statement that “in certain vehicles, the passenger's front airbag inflator could produce excessive internal pressure. If an affected airbag deploys, the increased pressure may cause the inflator to rupture.
Mazda is recalling 45,463 cars, including the RX-8 and Mazda 6, but none of these are in the UK.
“In the event of an inflator rupture, metal fragments could be propelled upward toward the windshield, or downward toward the front passenger's foot well, potentially causing injury to a vehicle occupant.”
The majority of Honda vehicles affected are CR-Vs built at the Swindon plant between 2002-2003, although there will also be a small number of Jazz and Stream variants built between 2001-2002, the firm said.
The companies said they will be writing to affected customers within the next 30 days. Anyone worried can check before then by contacting their local dealers or garage where the car was bought. In addition Toyota owners should be able to go to the owners section of the website www.toyota.co.uk and put in their registration number to find out if their car is affected. Worried Nissan owners can call 01923 899334.
There will be no compensation for motorists affected by the recall. That’s because under code of conduct rules set out by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency no compensation is allowed to be offered during manufacturer's recall campaigns. “That’s because it could be construed as bribery to keep customers quiet," one industry insider told The Independent.
The latest recall means across the world Toyota has had to return almost 20m vehicles to forecourts in the last three years, after a range of different problems on its cars. These have included faulty braking, sticky accelerator pedals and defective floor mats. Just last November Toyota recalled 2.7m vehicles, including some 75,000 Avensis, Corolla and Prius models in the UK, because of a steering wheel fault which could have resulted in a “reduction in steering response”.
The vehicles recalled
76,000 Toyota models - Corolla, Yaris, Avensis, Avensis Verso, Picnic, Camry and Alesix SC430 with "X" to "54" registration plate identifiers.
59,058 Nissan models - X-Trail, Patrol, Almera, Almera Tino, Terrano II and the 4x4 Pickup built between 2000 and 2004.
15,475 Honda models - CR-Vs built at the Swindon plant between 2002-2003, plus a small number of Jazz and Stream variants built between 2001-2002