Government warns about the dangers of counterfeit car air bags
Consumer Reports News: October 10, 2012 01:08 PM
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a consumer warning involving the sale of counterfeit air bags that were used as replacement parts for vehicles involved in a crash. The fake air bags look like certified, original parts with automaker branding, but they may not inflate properly or could deploy pieces of metal shrapnel.
"Anytime equipment that is critical to protecting drivers and passengers fails to operate properly, it is a serious safety concern," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement. "We want consumers to be immediately aware of this problem and to review our safety information to see if their vehicle could be in need of inspection."
While NHTSA says no deaths or injuries have occurred from these air bags, the agency wants consumers to contact their vehicle manufacturer if they have replaced their air bags at a repair shop (factory-backed car dealership repair shops not included) within the last three years; those who have purchased replacement bags online; or consumers who bought a used car that may been in an accident where the air bag deployed before their purchase. (See list of phone numbers.) Consumers will then need to take their vehicle in for inspection and replace the air bag at their own expense.
The agency is investigating the scope of the problem and has tested the fraudulent air bags (see video). Many of the counterfeit air bags come from China. Last winter, Chinese businessman Dai Zhensong pleaded guilty to importing counterfeit air bags. A separate trial is also pending in North Carolina after federal agents seized counterfeit air bags in August, according to the Detroit News.
A3, A4, A6, A8, Q5, Q7
X5, 5 Series
5 Series, 528i, 535i
5 Series, 525i, 530, 535, E60, E61
525i, 530, 535
Range Rover Evoque
IS250, IS350, IS-F
V70, S60, S80
If you are buying a used car, it's important to inspect the vehicle thoroughly by an independent mechanic to make sure it wasn't a rebuilt wreck. Our research shows that not all crashes make it to the vehicle history report and not all totaled cars are issued a salvage title. (See our report "Don't rely on used-car-history reports.")
If you've been in an accident and need to get your air bags replaced, make sure you go to the dealership or a reputable independent shop. As we've seen in this report, cutting corners on repair can literally blow up in your face.