The Road Transport Department (JPJ) will send out reminders to affected car owners to replace faulty Takata airbag inflators, which are hazardous and have claimed several lives in Malaysia. Two reminders will be sent out, and should the owner not respond, a summons will be issued.

This was revealed by transport minister Anthony Loke today following a meeting with Toyota, Honda, Nissan, BMW, Mitsubishi, Mazda and Subaru representatives. All the brands have cars that use the potentially defective Takata airbag inflators, and have initiated recalls locally.

Loke noted that Honda’s replacement rate so far is the highest at 79% so far, with 262,296 replacements completed out of 332,458 units that have been recalled – this is regardless of whether the driver and/or passenger side airbag inflators are required to be changed.

As for the completion rate of other brands, Toyota is at 38.1% (89,030 out of 233,637 cars), Lexus at 54.5% (180 out of 303 cars), Nissan at 40.5% (71,986 out of 177,803 cars), BMW at 4% (331 out of 8,320 cars), Mitsubishi at 44% (16,170 out of 36,155 cars), Subaru at 6.2% (19 out of 305 cars) and Mazda at 15.6% (1,718 out of 10,982 cars).

Loke also stated that car companies have made considerable efforts to ensure that owners with affected vehicles come in for the necessary replacements. “Still, there are a lot of people who refuse to change. Even when the replacement is free and despite the various campaigns organised, there are those who say it’s not necessary – they don’t want to change (the airbags), a waste of time,” he said.

“So, please, I’m pleading to Malaysians, if your car is affected, please spend one hour (to get the necessary replacements). As I understand, the replacement time doesn’t take long. For the driver’s side airbag, it only takes 15 minutes. For the passenger side, most cases only take 45 minutes. So, if both sides require changing, the maximum time you need is just one hour,” he added.

To ensure a proper system is established to identify affected vehicles, Loke has established a task force to provide coordination between JPJ and car companies. To start, IT representatives from each car company will have to attend a meeting tomorrow to prepare a mechanism to better filter through the data of all parties (JPJ and car companies).

The primary focus here is for affected cars that have yet undergone replacements, whereby car companies will send a list to JPJ. From that list, reminders will be sent to owners to get them to make the necessary replacements within 14 days.

After that period, car companies will send a report to the ministry so they can identify which vehicles have not undergone the replacement exercise. From that, a second reminder will be sent out to owners that have yet to send their cars in, with the help of insurance companies, to ensure that the reminders go to the most up-to-date addresses.

Should there still be no action from owners of affected vehicles following this, a RM300 summon will be issued to owners for not complying with JPJ’s orders. From then on, owners will be unable to renew the affected vehicle’s road tax. Loke stated that this isn’t to intentionally penalise anyone, but to ensure all affected vehicles have their airbags changed for safety reasons.