Official Toyota and Lexus distributor UMW Toyota Motor (UMWT) has released a statement commending the move by transport minister Anthony Loke to bar the Road Transport Department (JPJ) from renewing the road tax of vehicles affected by the Takata airbag recalls. The company stated that it supported the government’s seriousness in handling the issue.

“Since 2013, Toyota Motor Corporation has been actively addressing this issue. The affected vehicles have been identified and distributors worldwide have been informed to initiate Special Service Campaigns. During these campaigns, the airbag inflator modules have been replaced at no charge to the owners,” said UMWT deputy chairman Akio Takeyama.

The company, which has recalled Toyota vehicles produced from 2001 to 2014 and Lexus vehicles from 2007 to 2016, reported a completion rate of 53% for Toyota models newer than six years of age and 91% for Lexus vehicles under three years old. Owners of older models have been urged to send their vehicles in to have their affected airbag inflator modules replaced immediately, it said.

Additionally, UMWT said that it has made all effort to request owners to bring their vehicles to authorised service centres for the free replacement of the module, as well as sending notification letters to owners based on their contact details in its database.

“Safety is our highest priority and we have made every effort to contact owners through various means. We are grateful to the Transport Minister for his concern and will fully support this initiative,” said president Ravindran Kurusamy.

Loke’s announcement followed a fatal accident involving a Honda City on May 27, in which a rupture of a recalled airbag inflator was confirmed by Honda Malaysia. The latter sent several notification letters related to the recall to the then owners of the vehicle based on information in its database, but records indicated that the recall replacement was never completed and the vehicle was not serviced at Honda authorised dealers.

Causing large scale recalls by numerous companies since 2013, the issue centres around a defective airbag inflator, which contains a non-desiccated, phase-stabilised ammonium nitrate propellant that degrades after prolonged exposure to high absolute humidity, temperatures and cycling between low and high temperatures. As such, the inflator module could rupture when the airbag is deployed, causing metal fragments to pass through the airbag and into the cabin at high speed, potentially resulting in serious injury or death.

In the case of Toyota vehicles, owners will be able to check if their car is involved in a recall by visiting Toyota’s Special Service Campaign website, using a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) checker. They may also contact the Toyota hotline at 1800-8-TOYOTA (869682). For Lexus owners, customers can contact Lexus authorised dealers nationwide or contact the Lexus hotline at 1800-88-LEXUS (53987) or visit lexus.com.my.