NHTSA Issues Counterfeit Airbag Warning for Wide Range of Vehicles
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a consumer safety advisory to alert vehicle owners and repair professionals to the dangers of counterfeit airbags.
NHTSA said it has become aware of a problem involving the sale of counterfeit airbags for use as replacement parts in vehicles that have been involved in a crash. While these airbags look nearly identical to certified, original equipment parts — including bearing the insignia and branding of major automakers — NHTSA testing showed consistent malfunctioning. This ranged from non-deployment of the airbag to the expulsion of metal shrapnel during deployment.
NHTSA said it is not aware of any deaths or injuries connected to counterfeit airbags. In addition, the full scope and scale of the problem of counterfeit airbags is uncertain from currently available data.
NHTSA has, however, identified certain vehicle makes and models for which these airbags may be available. The agency believes this issue affects less than 0.1% of the U.S. vehicle fleet. Only 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, the agency said.
Consumers whose vehicles have been in a crash and had their airbags replaced by a repair shop that’s not part of a new car dealership within the past three years, or who have purchased a replacement airbag online, are advised to contact a call center established by their auto manufacturer. Their vehicle can then be inspected at their own expense and their airbag replaced if necessary.
The full list of call centers and additional information are available at www.SaferCar.gov.
“We expect all motor vehicle equipment to meet federal safety standards — and air bags in particular play a central role in keeping drivers and passengers safe in the event of a crash,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “That’s why it’s critical that vehicle owners work with their automotive dealers and repair professionals to ensure they use the appropriate, original equipment parts in the event they need to replace their airbag.”
NHTSA said it has been working with a number of government agencies — including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Department of Justice — to better understand the issue of counterfeit airbags and how to prevent them from being purchased and installed in vehicles.
“Organized criminals are selling dangerous counterfeit and substandard airbags to consumers and suppliers with little to no regard to hazardous health and safety consequences,” said ICE Director John Morton. “We will continue to aggressively investigate criminal supply chains with our law enforcement and private industry partners and bring these criminals to justice.”
NHTSA is currently gathering information from automakers about their systems for verifying the authenticity of replacement parts. The agency is also working with the industry to make the driving public aware of the potential safety risk posed by counterfeit airbags. Moving forward, the agency said it will continue to monitor consumer complaints, police accident reports, and other sources for additional information.
Consumers That Should Not Be at Risk:
▪ Consumers who purchased their vehicle new and have not had their airbags replaced
▪ Consumers who have full knowledge of the entire history of their used vehicle. This includes knowing whether the vehicle had been in a crash in the last three years and being certain that the airbag 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 airbags 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 airbag deployment before their purchase
▪ Consumers who own a car with a title branded salvage, rebuilt or reconstructed
▪ Consumers who have purchased replacement airbags from eBay or other non-certified sources — especially if the airbags were purchased at unusually low prices (i.e. less than $400).
Vehicles for Which Counterfeit Air Bags May Be Available:
As of today, NHTSA is aware of counterfeit airbags available for the following vehicle makes and models:
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