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Counterfeit Airbags – Dangerous Knockoffs Put You at Risk

The addition of new safety features in our vehicles is making us safer and helping lower our car insurance premiums.  From impact-absorbing crash zones and blind spot alert sensors to airbags, we can all rest easier knowing that life-saving technology is protecting us, right? That’s not always the case, according to a recent problem uncovered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The reason for concern involves the sale of counterfeit air bags, manufactured in mainland China, for use as replacement parts in vehicles that have been involved in a crash. Although these air bags appear identical to genuine, original equipment parts, NHTSA testing revealed consistent malfunctioning, ranging from non-deployment of the air bag to the ejection of metal shrapnel when the air bags did deploy.

At this time, NHTSA has identified certain vehicle makes and models for which these air bags may be available and believes that only less than 0.1 % of all cars in the U.S. are affected. 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.

According to the NHTSA, you should not be at risk if:

•    You purchased your vehicle new and have not had your air bags replaced
•    You have full knowledge of the entire history of your used vehicle (including knowing whether the vehicle had been in a crash in the last three years and being certain that the air bag was replaced at a new car dealership)
You may be at risk and should contact the call center established by your auto manufacturer if:
•    You have had air bags replaced within the past three years at a repair shop that is not part of a new car dealership
•    You have purchased a used car that may have sustained an air bag deployment before your purchase
•    You own a car with a title branded salvage, rebuilt, or reconstructed
•    You 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)

If you do not know your vehicle’s history, it’s a good idea to get information using Carfax, or contact your local new car dealer to have your vehicle inspected at your own expense and replace your air bag if necessary.

NHTSA has listed the phone numbers for the call centers that have been set up by the major auto manufacturers on Consumers with vehicles that are not included in the list of manufacturers should contact their local new car dealer.

NHTSA advises:

•    If you are concerned and have an air bag that was replaced at a repair shop recommended by your insurance company, contact your auto insurance company directly.
•    If you purchased a counterfeit air bag from eBay it may be covered by that company’s “Buyer Protection” program. Contact eBay’s Customer Support center accessible on

•    Contact your local Consumer Protection Agency or the appropriate State Office of the Attorney General to determine your rights under the law; and the Better Business Bureau or the Federal

Trade Commission to file a complaint.

The full list of call centers and additional information are available at

Are you concerned about an airbag you’ve replaced? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below

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