According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, some independent repair shops may be installing counterfeit air bags that are not only untested but also are likely to improperly activate during a car crash. While these unauthorized safety devices have been installed in less than 240,000 vehicles–that’s 1/10th of 1% of autos on the road today, over 100 different types of vehicles may be affected, including those with the makes (and various models of) Honda, Toyota, Audi, BMW, Acura, Chevrolet, Buick, Ford, Hyundai, Infiniti, Kia, Land Rover, Lexus, Mazda, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Suzuki, Volkswagen, and Volvo.
So far, there have been no related airbag injuries or deaths reported.
However, the NHTSA is still trying to figure out the extent of this problem.
Testing of the imitation safety bags show that when they do activate,
they are likely to malfunction. For example, according to CNN, as part
of a recent criminal probe, authorities tested 10 fake airbags last month,
which all failed. Some did not inflate or only partially inflated, at
least one exploded, spraying metal shrapnel onto the crash test dummy.
Among those most at risk of having a counterfeit airbag in their vehicle
are auto owners who have had their airbags replaced at an independent
repair shop in the last three years, customers who purchased replacement
airbags at extremely reduced prices (typically under $400) on the Internet,
auto owners that were recently involved in a collision and unsure of where
their replacement airbags came from, buyers of used cars that may have
had their air bags during previous ownership, and the owners of cars that
were rebuilt, salvaged, or reconstructed.
Already during this fiscal year, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement
has confiscated 2,500 fake airbags. Also, a Chinese broker is now behind
bars after he was arrested for selling nine brands of imitation airbags
in the US. Other brokers are also under investigation.
Unfortunately, if your vehicle does have a counterfeit airbag, you will
have to replace it at your own cost. You also will likely have to pay
for the inspection to check whether/not your airbag is an authorized part
or an imitation.
Air Bag Safety
Our airbag defect law firm cannot stress the importance of having safety
devices in your vehicle that actually work. A defective airbag can be
very dangerous to vehicle occupants, who are at risk of not getting the
protection they need to prevent serious car crash injuries and are additionally
exposed to the potential injuries that can result from a faulty air bag.
Feds warn of counterfeit airbags being installed as replacements, CNN, October 10, 2012
Safety Advisory: NHTSA Alerting Consumers to Dangers of Counterfeit Air Bags, NHTSA/Auto Blog, October 10, 2012