Takata airbag recall hits New Zealand

Faulty Takata airbags have injured hundreds and killed dozens of drivers around the world, and now New Zealand has been hit with the largest-ever vehicle recall.

When one of the faulty Takata air bags explodes, it can fire shrapnel into the driver and passengers.

Around 320,000 new and used vehicles in New Zealand are affected. Vehicles in humid climates, like in Auckland, are most at risk.

"These particular Takata airbags, the explosion is not controlled," says motoring commentator Clive Matthew-Wilson.

"If the airbag has been stored in a damp place for long enough, you get a tremendous explosion, which sends shards of metal flying at you like a hand grenade."

A faulty part in the airbags causes the explosions, which have resulted in hundreds of injuries and 22 deaths worldwide.

While 134,000 owners have already arranged for them to be fixed, many Newshub spoke to didn't know if they were affected.

Two-thirds of owners have received letters, but Mr Matthew-Wilson says that's not good enough.

"First of all it's voluntary, which I'm a little horrified by, and the person who is supposed to be recalling the cars just sent a notice out."

The Takata airbags recall could affect up to 100 million vehicles worldwide, across almost every major car company.

"I think this is an opportunity for this new Government to prove that they take road safety seriously and be more proactive about pulling the car companies into line and getting out there and protecting ordinary people against a very seriously safety problem," Mr Matthew-Wilson says.

Airbags in some Japanese imports have already been disabled. If your car has a Japanese sticker fitted to the passenger sun visor, then it's had its passenger airbag disabled.

You can find out if and when your vehicle was imported from Japan by checking on the registration, the date it was first registered here.

The best way to check if your vehicle is affected is to call an official dealer. Or you can check the Government's recalls website.