What to do if you’re buying or selling a car affected by the airbag recall
Yesterday, the Federal Government announced a compulsory recall of 2.7 million cars fitted with defective Takata airbags.
That's a lot of cars, so if you're in the market to buy or sell, you might be wondering how this will affect you.
These are the legal requirements for sellers, according to the ACCC
- If a car has been recalled, dealerships and businesses are required to have had the airbags replaced before selling them second-hand (though consumers should still double-check themselves that this has taken place)
- If a private individual is selling a car that's been recalled, there are no such legal requirements — they don't need to have had the airbags replaced prior to selling, and nor do they need to disclose the fact that the car has been recalled
However, it's not just about legal obligations
Paul Turner, spokesperson for motorist organisation RACQ, said it's about ensuring "transparency between buyer and seller".
He says people trying to sell second-hand cars at the moment should be telling potential buyers whether they've received a recall notice and whether the airbags have been replaced.
And even if sellers haven't received a recall notice, they should still be telling potential buyers if the car is on the list of affected vehicles.
"If they've done that, they've probably fulfilled their obligation," Mr Turner said.
As a buyer, there are ways you can protect yourself
Mr Turner says this doesn't necessarily mean steering clear of potentially affected vehicles, especially since we're talking about millions of them.
"You would seriously limit your market at the moment," he said.
Instead, Mr Turner says you need to take the right steps to ensure you're informed.
"The way to protect yourself is to get the Vehicle Identification Number — the VIN — of the vehicle you want to purchase, and check either directly with the manufacturer or the local dealership for that mark," Mr Turner said.
"That will tell you then whether that vehicle has already been in for the recall and had its airbag replaced."
A VIN is a 17-character serial number unique to the car, and it can be found on the car itself or in the registration documents.
The ACCC says that by July 1, 2018, manufacturers will be required to have a function on their website which allows people to use a VIN to find out if a car has been recalled.
Also, remember, if you do buy a second-hand car that has been recalled, you have the same right to a free airbag replacement as anyone else.
If you're looking for a bargain, the recall won't necessarily have an impact on prices
Mr Turner said it's possible the recall could bring prices down for affected cars, but he didn't think that would be the case.
"Unfortunately safety, although people talk about it a lot, actually isn't one of the top few things they think about when they're buying a second-hand car, despite all our efforts," he said.
However, he said you could try to negotiate a lower price if there is going to be the inconvenience of having to get the airbag replaced (but remember, the replacement itself is free).
There's going to be a rush of replacement work, which could mean delays for services
Manufacturers themselves are responsible for the replacements, and in most cases these will be carried out directly through dealerships, meaning they're the ones getting hammered.
"It's a big issue, with such a huge volume, that they just literally cannot manage the influx of potential vehicles," Mr Turner said.
So if your car is due for a service or other work at a dealership, there could be a delay.
"There are other options, using an independent mechanic instead of your dealership if that becomes too difficult," Mr Turner said.
He says this will mostly affect people who are forced into getting services done at their dealership for warranty purposes.
However, he says you should check that this is actually a requirement of your warranty, because most of them allow you to have services done elsewhere.
Finally, here's what you should do if you get a recall notice
"Please, take it seriously," Mr Turner said.