Four-month wait to replace deadly airbags

Mel Beauchamp won't let her kids - or anyone else - in the front passenger seat of her husband's car until they can get the faulty airbag replaced. Picture: Sylvia Liber
Mel Beauchamp won't let her kids - or anyone else - in the front passenger seat of her husband's car until they can get the faulty airbag replaced. Picture: Sylvia Liber

Mel Beauchamp’s family is one of the thousands in the queue to have faulty airbags replaced.

It’s a queue she’s been in for months.

In March, the family received a recall notice for her husband’s 2007 Mitsubishi Lancer, stating that the front passenger seat airbag “may release metallic fragments from the inflator container if the airbag is deployed”.

The fragments could cause serious injury to occupants, the recall notice stated.

Ms Beauchamp said she called her local Mitsubishi dealer to book the car in straight away.

"They were like ‘okay, it could take a few weeks’,” Ms Beauchamp said.

“I called back a month ago and they said it’s in ‘the system but we’re still waiting’.”

She called again this week and found there were so many calls about the issue that it has become a selection option on the recorded message that greets callers.

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Ms Beauchamp didn’t blame the dealer for the delay – like so many others, they were waiting on replacement parts.

“It’s not their fault – obviously there’s a backlog,” she said.

“It’s been at least a few months. I know other people who have cars booked in and they’re not getting seen until September  – and they booked in months ago as well.”

Ms Beauchamp’s husband is still driving the car, but they’ve decided not to allow anyone to sit in the front passenger seat.

“Safety is our top priority, we’re not putting anyone in that seat, especially now there’s been a death in Australia because of it,” she said.

“Knowing what I know, I’d never ever forgive myself if I put someone in that seat.”

On July 13 in Cabramatta, the male driver of a Honda CRV died after his airbag deployed in an accident.

Police said a faulty airbag was likely the cause of death after the driver was “struck in the neck by a small fragment”.

Ensuring the Lancer’s front seat stays empty has caused a few problems for such a large family.

“I’ve got four children and it means that my husband can’t take all the four children,” she said.

“But there is no way I’m going to allow any of my children it sit in that front seat. There are times where we’ve had to say ‘oh look, we just can’t take that car’.

“We are fortunate enough to have another car but a lot of people don’t have that option.”

Illawarra Mercury