Motorists who get replacement airbags after being involved in a crash should be careful, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Today the organization issued a consumer safety warning about counterfeit airbags.
NHTSA has been investigating the sale of counterfeit airbags used as replacement parts for vehicles involved in a crash. The group's tests have found that many of these bags consistently malfunction; issues reported range from non-deployment to shrapnel being projected during deployment. "NHTSA is not aware of any deaths or injuries connected to counterfeit air bags," the agency said in a statement.
NHTSA is partnering with several government agencies, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Department of Justice, to track where they're coming from.
"Organized criminals are selling dangerous counterfeit and substandard airbags to consumers and suppliers with little to no regard to hazardous health and safety consequences. We will continue to aggressively investigate criminal supply chains with our law enforcement and private industry partners and bring these criminals to justice," Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton said in a statement.
Consumers most at risk include those who have had a car repaired during the past three years at a shop not affiliated with a dealership, those who bought a used car with prior airbag deployment and consumers who bought low-cost replacement airbags from non-certified websites.
The catch is that the fakes are tough to spot. NHTSA warns that these airbags may look identical to the original ones, and they are often stamped with automakers' logos. The only way to know is by getting an inspection at a dealership, a service consumers must pay for.
The good news is that NHTSA has identified vehicles where the replacement airbags are often used, and it believes that only less than 0.1 % of cars in the U.S. are affected. The list is below.
A3, A4, A6, A8, Q5, Q7
X5, E70, E60, E61
5-series, 528i, 535i
5-Series, 525i, 530, 535, E60, E61
525i, 530, 535
Range Rover Evoque
IS250, IS350, IS-F
V70, S60, S80