Picture. REUTERS/PAULO WHITAKER
Picture. REUTERS/PAULO WHITAKER

SA Toyota owners could escape a worldwide recall of 3.4-million cars meant to fix a faulty airbag.

Toyota SA is waiting for its Japanese parent to provide it with full details of the recall, which affects Corolla, Matrix and Avalon cars. Of those, only Corollas are sold in SA. Affected models are those built between 2011 and 2019. However, SA-built cars source many of their components from local companies and Toyota SA officials say they are still waiting for Japan to tell them if the problem exists here.

Toyota says a potential electronic fault in affected cars could result in airbags not deploying in an accident. More than 5-million vehicles in the US will be recalled over separate issues that could prevent frontal air bags from deploying normally in a crash.

Similarly, Honda said it will recall 2.4-million older vehicles over defective air bags that the now-bankrupt supplier Takata Corporation told US regulators in December could put drivers at risk, the carmaker said on Tuesday

Separately, Toyota will recall roughly 2.9-million vehicles over a faulty electronic control unit that could malfunction in certain crashes and cause air bags and seat belt pre-tensioners — the devices that tighten belts in a crash — to not deploy, the company said in a statement.

For Honda, the callback covers Honda and Acura vehicles from the 1996 to 2003 model years containing a so-called non-azide propellant, a formula Takata used before the ammonium nitrate propellant behind the previous recalls of tens of millions of vehicles worldwide. Toyota’s recall covers certain sedans and hatchbacks from model years 2011 to 2018.

The new flaw, which Takata reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in early December, could allow air and moisture to leak into the air bag inflator over time and potentially degrade the propellant. That could cause an air bag to inflate too slowly or with too much force and cause the metal canister containing it to explode and spray drivers with metal shards.

In a statement, Honda said it was aware of one such rupture that occurred in a 1997-model Honda Civic in 2012 in Texas, plus two more in Japan, in vehicles being scrapped. Honda said replacement parts from alternative suppliers are not available and repairs will begin in roughly a year. Consumers will receive notices in the mail from Honda from the middle of March, with a second one going out when the replacement parts are available.

The NHTSA began investigating electronic control units made by auto parts supplier ZF-TRW in 2018 and last year expanded the probe to cover an estimated 12-million US vehicles. A Toyota spokesperson said the parts involved in its recall are the same.