The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) held a press conference Oct. 10 to issue a warning against airbags that were replaced in the past three years, stating they may have counterfeit systems that won’t function properly.
NHTSA said the airbags look identical to certified, original equipment parts, but testing has shown malfunctioning ranging from non-deployment of the airbag to the expulsion of metal shrapnel during deployment.
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NHTSA identified vehicle makes and models it believes may contain these airbags, and believes they affect less than 0.1 percent of the U.S. vehicle fleet. NHTSA noted that 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.
NHTSA suggests that consumers whose vehicles have been in a crash and had the airbags replaced within the past three years by a repair shop that is not part of a new car dealership, or who have purchased a replacement airbag online, should contact a call center connected to their auto manufacturer to have their vehicle inspected and the airbag replaced if necessary.
“Although NHTSA does a good job highlighting the need for consumers to be vigilant about counterfeit airbags and to contact their automobile manufacturer with questions, they are not as clear as to inspection and repair options for consumers. Independent shops are more prevalent in the collision marketplace and should be included in any NHTSA consumer recommendations for inspection and repair. In addition, it is not at all easy to discern whether automotive manufacturers or insurers will pay for these inspections and repairs. These are important consumer questions that will have to be answered,” said Bob Redding, ASA’s Washington, D.C., representative.