Consumer

Could your car have a counterfeit airbag?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thousands of car owners could be driving vehicles with counterfeit airbags, U.S. Department of Transportation administrators warned today. Less than 0.1 percent of cars are affected but the danger is serious. Counterfeit airbags could catch fire, not deploy or partially deploy.

Counterfeit airbags made at overseas manufacturers and installed in cars across the U.S. have been found in more than the 75 different makes and models of cars. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have confiscated more than 2500 fake bags this year. Officials are not aware of any death or injury from counterfeit airbags at this time.

"These seemingly genuine airbags are in fact shotty fakes that pose a significant safety hazard when it's installed," ICE Director John Morton said. "These airbags don't work. They aren't going to save you in an accident, they are a fraud and danger from start to finish, and you don't want them in your car."

    Consumers are at risk if:
  • They have had the airbag replaced in the last three years, at a repair shop not associated with a new car dealership
  • Purchased a used car that had its airbag replaced.
  • Own a car titled branded salvage, rebuilt or reconstructed
  • Got a "too good to be true" deal for airbag replacement.
  • Purchased their airbag from eBay, craigslist or other non-certified outlet.

Officials strongly urge that anyone who feels that they may be in these categories to take their car to an expert for testing and replacement.

"They look like the real thing and unfortunately consumers are not in a position to figure out if they have a fake or a real airbag and they certainly wouldn't be in a position to be able to replace their own airbag," David Strickland, NHTSA Administrator said.

ABC News contributed to this report.

(Copyright ©2014 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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