What a way to start out the day.
Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG
- Oct. 10, 2012
How the counterfeit air bags can deploy and in both instances, it is not pretty.
This morning the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a consumer safety advisory to alert vehicle owners and repair professionals to the dangers of counterfeit air bags that have been introduced into the replacement or repair parts system.
NHTSA has become aware of a problem involving the sale of counterfeit air bags for use as replacement parts in vehicles that have been involved in a crash.
According to NHTSA, the air bags look nearly identical to certified, original equipment parts including the insignia and branding of the major automakers but testing has revealed consistent malfunctioning ranging from non-deployment of the air bag to the expulsion of metal shrapnel during deployment. NHTSA is not aware of any deaths or injuries connected to counterfeit air bags so far but it is only a matter of time.
While the full scope and scale of the problem is uncertain, NHTSA has identified certain vehicle makes and models for which these air bags may be available and believes this issue affects less than 0.1 percent of the U.S. vehicle fleet. Only vehicles which have had an air bag replaced within the past three years by a repair shop that is not part of a new car dealership may be at risk.
NHTSA has been working with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Department of Justice to better understand the issue of counterfeit air bags and how to prevent them from being installed in vehicles.
Apparently Organized crime is behind the sale of the dangerous counterfeit and substandard airbags to consumers and suppliers with no regard to the hazardous health and safety consequences. Immigration and Customs is said to be aggressively investigating the criminal supply chains with law enforcement and private industry partners to bring the criminals to justice.
NHTSA is continuing to gathering information from automakers about their systems for verifying the authenticity of replacement parts and is working with the industry to make the driving public aware of the potential safety risk posed by counterfeit air bags. Moving forward, the agency will continue to monitor consumer complaints, police accident reports, and other sources for additional information.
Consumers who purchased their vehicle new and have not had their air bags replaced have nothing to be concerned with.
Those that should be concerned include those who have had air bags replaced within the past three years at a repair shop that is not part of a new car dealership, consumers who have purchased a used car that may have sustained an air bag deployment before their purchase, consumers who own a car with a title branded salvage, rebuilt, or reconstructed and consumers who have purchased replacement air bags from eBay or other non-certified sources—especially if they were purchased at unusually low prices (i.e. less than $400).
For a list of vehicles in which counterfeit and substandard airbags are currently available, look no further than the NHTSA release for more detail.
Safety Advisory: NHTSA Alerting Consumers to Dangers of Counterfeit Air Bags
Make sure you are not so equipped as the consequences can be worse than the vehicle accident itself!