Air Bags: Tips for Consumers Related to Counterfeit Air Bags

In October 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a consumer advisory on counterfeit air bags. Federal investigators have determined that thousands of counterfeit bags have been bought and installed in U.S. motor vehicles over the past three years by non-dealership body shops. NHTSA also has determined that in the event of a frontal collision, these primarily front driver seat modules are likely to fail to deploy or to deploy in a manner that can harm vehicle occupants. (See also, "NADA Issues Dealer Guidance on Counterfeit Air Bags").

Below is provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation:
CONSUMERS THAT SHOULD NOT BE AT RISK:
• Consumers who purchased their vehicle new and have not had their air bags replaced

• Consumers who have full knowledge of the entire history of their 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)
CONSUMERS THAT MAY BE AT RISK AND SHOULD CONTACT THE CALL CENTER ESTABLISHED BY THEIR AUTO MANUFACTURER:
• Consumers who have had air bags replaced within the past three years at a repair shop that is not part of a new car dealership

• Consumers who have purchased a used car that may have sustained an air bag deployment before their purchase

• Consumers who own a car with a title branded salvage, rebuilt, or reconstructed

• Consumers who 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 an air bag has been replaced within the last three years and it is not known if it is a genuine original manufacturer part, NADA recommends the following steps be taken:
1. Visit the DOT website for more information and appropriate phone numbers to determine if your vehicle’s safety may have been compromised.

2. Call the appropriate manufacturer or manufacturer designee to determine if an airbag is possibly counterfeit and to find out the next steps.

3. If the air bag is suspect, contact a franchised new-car dealership to set up a service appointment for an air bag evaluation.

4. Expect the dealership to first diagnose the suspect air bag. If found to be counterfeit, the dealership can install a genuine original manufacturer part with the customer’s permission.