In a drastic move, the transport ministry has announced that all cars that are affected by the recall of potentially faulty Takata airbag inflators will not be able to have their road tax renewed until the necessary replacements are made.

According to reports by The Star and the Malay Mail, the new directive will take effect this coming Monday (June 4), whereby all affected vehicle owners are required to obtain a certificate from their respective car dealership to prove that they have changed their airbags.

Transport minister Anthony Loke added that all car companies involved in the global recall exercise are required to submit a list of vehicles that have yet to have their airbags replaced to the Road Transport Department (JPJ).

“We will input the list of all vehicles that have not changed their airbags into our system. I have also directed JPJ not to renew the road tax of these vehicles unless they replaced their airbags. I will also ask car companies to come up with a certification to verify that the airbags have been changed. JPJ will not renew the road taxes of these vehicles without the certification,” Loke explained.

Loke also stated explicitly that owners of affected vehicles will no longer be able to renew their road tax online and must do so manually at JPJ offices. “If they want to complain about me making their lives troublesome by having to go through a tedious process, let them do so. I would rather be complained at than visit another victim of an accident that could have been avoided in the first place,” he said.

As such, vehicle owners who are affected by the recall and have already had their airbags replaced will first need to get said certificate of proof from dealerships. Even then, they (or a runner) will still need to be present with the certificate at JPJ offices if they want to renew their road tax, making the process inconvenient.

This also requires car companies to put in a considerable amount of effort as they must now race against time to issue certificates for virtually every vehicle affected by the recall that has received the necessary replacements, which can amount to tens of thousands of vehicles. Third-party road tax renewal services like service agents and Pos Malaysia will also need to be made aware of this new development.

In relation, the system used by JPJ must also be able to quickly identify vehicles that have yet to have their airbags changed by cross-referencing specific details like the vehicle’s production year and VIN with the lists sent in by car companies.

Other initiatives being considered by the transport ministry include publishing the registration numbers of all owners who do not comply with the recall, but this will require prior discussions with car companies beforehand. The transport minister also said that despite numerous reminders from car companies and coverage by the press, owners are still ignorant of the issue.

“We do not want the owners to wait until they are unable to renew their road tax to take necessary actions because this problem has been proven worldwide and there are statistics to back it up. Vehicle owners must also take responsibility for the sake of their safety to spend some time getting their vehicles checked and if they passed inspection, then take it as a routine service and if replacement is required then at least they are aware of the dangers now,” he said.

The Takata airbag inflator issue has been an ongoing one for many years now, and has been linked to a number of deaths in Malaysia. Car companies have remained persistent in reminding affected owners to bring their vehicles in to have their airbags changed, but there are still quite a number of owners who have yet to do so.

Vehicle ownership transfers also complicate things as there are times when important information is not updated, making it difficult for car companies to notify current owners if their vehicle is part of a recall.

Recently, Honda Malaysia confirmed a Takata driver airbag inflator rupture in a fatal crash on May 27, where the driver of a 2004 Honda City was killed. According to an official statement, the car was part of a product recall, and that numerous notification letters were sent out to the owners of the vehicle based on the information available in the company’s database. However, the recall replacement was never completed and the vehicle was not serviced at Honda authorised dealers.

“For Malaysia alone there are 71,315 Honda vehicles that have yet to replace their airbags and that makes up about 20 per cent of the entire fleet recalled since 2014,” Loke said after meeting the victim’s family at their home in Cheras.

What do you think of the transport ministry’s move to tackle the Takata airbag inflator issue? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.