October 10, 2012
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Warns Against Counterfeit Airbags
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
There are a few things in life worth paying full price for, such as safety equipment. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a report today warning Americans that their replacement airbags may be counterfeit and, as such, dangerously flawed.
The NHTSA gave a press conference earlier today wherein they announced the results of a round of tests that they put several airbags through. While the risk appears to be low at present, the agency urged drivers to check Safercar.gov to see if their car is at risk of carrying a dangerous air bag.
According to the report, only those drivers who have had their airbags replaced in the last 3 years at an establishment other than their dealership are at risk of having a faulty, counterfeit airbag. In some cases, these fake airbags failed to inflate, did not inflate properly, and even showered one driver with metal shards upon impact, according to the Associated Press (AP).
These findings are incredibly frightening and could turn a dangerous automobile accident into a fatal one. The NHTSA did take care to mention, however, that they had not yet seen any evidence of deaths or injuries as a result of these counterfeit safety devices. AP on the other hand, says industry experts are unsure if police who investigate the scene of an accident would be able to distinguish a counterfeit bag from a genuine bag.
The NHTSA also claims that only 0.1% of all vehicles on the road are at risk of having one of these false bags, but also suggests that they may not yet fully understand how wide spread this problem could be. As such, they expect this lengthy list of possible affected cars to “evolve over time.”
“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 the NHTSA´s 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.”
According to the AP, it´s likely the shops who purchased these false bags may not have known they came from a counterfeit shop in China. These bags were reportedly sold as authentic dealer parts and, in some cases, even shipped with the manufacturers label.
These bags were also reported to have been marked up to match the price of legitimate air bags, providing extra profits to the counterfeiters as well as curtailing any suspicion by these repair shops.
Dealerships are often required to use and install only parts which ship straight from the manufacturer. Therefore, any car which has had their airbag replaced by a certified dealership in the past three years are likely safe from these counterfeit bags. The NHTSA report urges all drivers who have had their airbags replaced to take their cars to their dealership to test the validity of their safety equipment. These tests normally run around $100, according to AP, and could cost more as some automobiles have as many as 8 airbags installed. The NHTSA also suggests any driver who has recently purchased a car within the past 3 years should have their airbags checked as well.