Better Business Bureau is alerting motorists they may be at serious risk if they have had their vehicle’s airbags replaced within the last three years by an independent repair shop.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says it has become aware of counterfeit airbags which look nearly identical to certified, original equipment parts, including the logos and branding of major automakers. The counterfeit airbags, which have been sold online, reveal consistent failure under government testing, ranging from total malfunction to the ejection of metal shrapnel if the airbags do deploy.
While the NHTSA estimates a fraction of one percent of vehicles in the United States may have the counterfeit replacement safety devices installed, it admits it is uncertain of the scope of the problem “from currently available data,” and will monitor consumer complaints, police accident reports and other sources to get more information.
The federal agency says only vehicles that have had an airbag replaced within the past three years by a repair shop that is not part of a new car dealership may be at risk. Independent repair shops and mechanics may have unwittingly installed the counterfeit parts.
In an alert on its website, NHTSA recommends consumers contact their auto manufacturer call center if they:
•had air bags replaced within the past three years at a repair shop that is not part of a new car dealership
•purchased a used car that may have sustained an air bag deployment before their purchase
•own a car with a title branded salvage, rebuilt, or reconstructed, or
•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)
More information, including vehicle models which may have been fitted with counterfeit airbags, is available at www.safercar.gov.