Know your HondaPOSTED BY Yamin Vong ON 13 February 2018
Just as we get into the hype surrounding Chinese New Year and hear the advice to motorists about traffic safety, perhaps it is time for the well-meaning Minister of Transport, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lay, to act beyond pedestrian activities.
He could personally save up to 140 more souls in the immediate term based on a purely empirical observation that about 16% of the Road Transport Department vehicle database is GIGO (Garbage in Garbage out, in computer terms).
The Minister of Transport should take note of one more grim statistic from the start of the new year – Honda confirmed that the Takata single stage (SDI) driver’s airbag inflator ruptured in a crash on January 1 this year in Selangor.
The police report corroborated that the driver’s side airbag deployed and the inflator was ruptured in the crash involving a 2004 Honda City on that New Year’s day.
“The vehicle involved in this crash was included in a Malaysian Product Recall announced on May 21, 2015, requiring replacement of the SDI inflator of the Takata driver’s front airbag. Several notification letters related to the recall were sent out to the then owners of the vehicle based on the information in our database, yet the letters were not sent to the current owner due to the change of ownership. Our records indicate that the recall replacement was never completed,” Honda said in a statement.
What happened here is that Honda Malaysia had done an incredible job in reaching out to all their affected customers, especially the owners of Honda City cars made between year 2003 and 2008.
The final step is for the relevant government agencies, especially the Transport Ministry which owns and controls the database of vehicle registrations, to take some ownership of the problem by contacting owners.
The Transport Minister should meet with Honda Malaysia bosses to ascertain that they have done all that was possible in contacting all owners.
Once he is satisfied with the knowledge, he should then lead the mission to get the residual owners of affected Honda cars for retrofitting. The affected Honda City cars (2003 – 2008-year models) make up almost half of the affected population.
Liow Tiong Lay should take up this cause on two grounds:
- His Road Transport Department’s database is imprecise because some of the second and third owners of the affected Honda City owners have provided addresses that are outdated or incorrect. It is also a fact that there are cases where the addresses on the drivers’ license do not match the addresses on the identity cards.
There is a RTD regulation where owners of cars are required to update their addresses, and even when they change the colour of their car. Perhaps it is time to enforce this regulation by asking for more proof of residential and/or employer’s address?
- There is a minority of vehicle owners who are unaware and/or oblivious in knowing more about their cars and product recalls. I know personally of a few owners who were blissfully ignorant of the dangers of a potentially faulty Takata airbag in their cars. Fortunately, it was easy to tell them and to get them to send their cars in. This reinforces the case for a person of authority to make a personal appeal.
An appeal by Liow Tiong Lay together with Honda bosses would help convince Honda car owners who have yet to comply. This would support the hard work already being put in by Honda Malaysia.
In a Honda Malaysia statement following the crash, the company announced:
“As of January 25, 2018, Honda Malaysia has completed more than 221,000 units of Takata driver front airbag inflator which translates to an 84% completion rate. The total number of Takata driver and passenger front airbag inflator replacements completed is at more than 427,000 units or 76% completion rate.
For the City (2003-2008-year model), Honda Malaysia has completed more than 93,000 units of the Takata driver and passenger front airbag inflator replacements, translating to a 77% completion rate.
As with previous incidences of airbag rupture, Honda Malaysia urgently advises City (2003-2008-year model) owners to get their vehicles inspected and repaired immediately at Honda authorised dealers.
The company has also enhanced the activities for airbag inflator replacement, including ensuring 100% stock availability of front and passenger airbag inflators, and increasing service capacity via service central hubs, mobile hubs, hubs at selected Petronas stations, hubs at Honda roadshows and prioritising replacement activities at dealerships.
Honda Malaysia would like to affirm that the current selling line-up of Honda models do not have the same type of Takata airbag inflators as previous models affected in the recall. All current selling Honda models are not affected.”