Mitsubishi is planning to buy back thousands of 1996 – 2000 model NL Pajeros because of a faulty airbag inflator that can’t be replaced.
In a decision that is likely to cost millions, Mitsubishi Motors has announced it will buy back thousands of NL Pajeros built between 31 May 1996 and 30th September 2000 because the driver’s side airbag inflator (NADI 5-AT) is faulty and no replacement exists. The only other 4X4 so far on the list is a Suzuki Grand Vitara 2.5L V6 (1998-1999) and Suzuki has announced it’s also going to buy back vehicles (there are 346 of them on the road). Stay tuned. Back to Mitsubishi.
So, what’s the problem? Well, we’ve all been following the original Takata airbag recall and there are plenty of us that probably received a letter asking us to return our vehicles for a replacement inflator to be fitted. Turns out, no such inflator exists for the NADI 5-AT inflator. According to Joyson Safety System, the company that took over Takata, said, “Faulty Takata airbags containing a non-azide driver inflator (NADI) that use 5-aminotetrazole (5-AT) propellant may allow moisture to enter the unit and degrade the airbag propellant due to poorly attached and inadequate sealing tape. If this occurs, the properties of the propellant may be changed so that the propellant does not react as intended during an accident, causing misdeployment of the airbag”.
That means the airbag may either under-inflate in a collision or could inflate and shower the driver and passengers with metal fragments, like the original (and ongoing) Takata airbag inflator. The NADI 5-AT inflator was produced and sold in vehicles running from 1996 to 2000. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) there are around 78,000 affected vehicles on Australian roads with these inflators. The recall is currently limited to a range of Audis, BMWs, Ford, Toyotas, Suzukis, Mitsubishis, Honda and Mazdas but the ACCC advises that list could grow.
BMW was the first company to issue a recall because of the NADI 5-AT inflator and it looked into the production of replacement airbag inflators but claimed the design, development, testing and certification time for this could run from 14 to 22 months and so has decided a buy back at market value is a better option. And so too, it seems, has Mitsubishi. “If a recalled Mitsubishi vehicle is identified as containing the affected type of driver airbag inflator and it is registered for road use, Mitsubishi Motors Australia will offer to buy back the vehicle at current market value. Alternative transportation will be arranged to avoid consumer inconvenience while the buyback negotiations are taking place. Due to the age of the vehicles, replacement airbag inflators are not available.”
Owners have taken to social media and forums suggesting they would consider disabling their airbags (not recommended as this would mark your vehicle as unroadworthy) rather than sell their vehicle at market rate, a rate many claim will be far below the cost of the work and modifications on their vehicles. Some light at the end of the tunnel appears to be the idea that owners might be able to look at swapping out their NL Pajero’s steering wheel and column for other NL Pajero steering wheels and columns as airbags were an option on some NL Pajeros. Stay tuned as we’ll continue to look into this issue.
Unsealed 4X4 spoke with Mitsubishi Motors Head of Corporate Communications & Government Relations, Karl Gehling, who said in regard to buy backs, Mitsubishi would assess vehicles on a case by case basis and take into account modifications and accessories. “Mitsubishi will provide a market value on the vehicle and take into account any additions left on,” he said.
For those wanting to know if their vehicle is affected, click HERE: VIN list_319, or call the Mitsubishi Motors Recall Hotline on 1800 931 811.