Four Japanese brands are recalling 3.4 million cars worldwide after an airbag fault was discovered.
Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Mazda say they are recalling more than 150,000 affected cars in the UK.
The problem concerns the front passenger airbag inflator, which may not deploy correctly. Reports suggest it could burst, sending shards of plastic flying, or even catch fire. However, no injuries have been reported relating to the problem.
Human error to blame
The Japanese supplier of the affected airbags, Takata, says the fault was caused by human error during production, leading to humidity entering the airbag.
Toyota says it has received five reports of airbag problems, three from the USA and two from Japan.
The problem affects older vehicles made between 2000 and 2004.
Not just Japanese brands affected
Toyota is recalling 1.73 million vehicles worldwide, of which 76,000 are in the UK. Affected models include the Corolla, Yaris, Picnic and Camry made between November 2000 and March 2004.
Toyota says it will exchange the faulty inflators under recall, which will take between one hour and two-and-a-half hours.
Meanwhile, Honda is recalling 1.14 million vehicles built between 2001 and 2004, some 15,400 of which are in the UK. Models affected include the Civic, CR-V, FR-V and Stream.
Nissan is also recalling 480,000 vehicles globally, with 59,058 of those sold in the UK, including the X-Trail, Patrol, Almera, Almera Tino and Navara made between August 2000 and January 2004.
Mazda says 45,500 of its cars are being recalled in total, including 1,913 examples of the Mazda 6 bought in the UK between 2002 and 2003.
Further details of recalls affecting the UK are due to be announced shortly.
Other car brands are likely to be affected by the Takata airbag problem, including non-Japanese manufacturers, but no further details have so far been provided.