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 air bags.
NHTSA has become aware of a problem involving the sale of counterfeit air bags for use as replacement parts in vehicles that have been involved in a crash. While these air bags look nearly identical to certified, original equipment parts—including bearing the insignia and branding of major automakers — NHTSA testing one showed consistent malfunctioning ranging from non-deployment of the air bag to the expulsion of metal shrapnel during deployment. NHTSA is not aware of any deaths or injuries connected to counterfeit air bags.
A Charlotte television news station reported on the plea deal of a fake airbag trafficker over the weekend.
While the full scope and scale of the problem of counterfeit air bags is uncertain from currently available data, NHTSA has identified certain vehicle makes and models for which these air bags may be available and believes this issue affects less than 0.1 percent of the U.S. vehicle fleet. 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.
Consumers whose vehicles have been in a crash and had their air bags replaced by a repair shop that is not part of a new car dealership within the past three years or who have purchased a replacement air bag online should contact the call center that has been established by their auto manufacturer to have their vehicle inspected at their own expense and their air bag replaced if necessary. The full list of call centers and additional information are available at www.SaferCar.gov.
“Anytime equipment that is critical to protecting drivers and passengers fails to operate properly, it is a serious safety concern,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We want consumers to be immediately aware of this problem and to review our safety information to see if their vehicle could be in need of inspection.”
NHTSA 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 air bags and how to prevent them from being purchased and installed in vehicles.
NHTSA is currently gathering information from automakers about their systems for verifying the authenticity of replacement parts and is working with the industry to make the driving public aware of the potential safety risk posed by counterfeit air bags. Moving forward, the agency 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 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)
VEHICLES FOR WHICH COUNTERFEIT AIR BAGS MAY BE AVAILABLE:
As of today, NHTSA is aware of counterfeit air bags available for the following vehicle makes and models:
Make Model Year(s) Model(s)
Acura 2009-2011 TSX
Audi 2006-2009 A3, A4, A6, A8, Q5, Q7
BMW 2007-2011 X5, E70, E60, E61
2008-2010 5-series, 528i, 535i
2004-2007 5-Series, 525i, 530, 535, E60, E61
2007-2011 E90, E91
Not listed E92, E93
2007-2011 X5, E70
2004-2007 525i, 530, 535
Buick 2010-2011 Lacrosse
Chevrolet 2011-2012 Cruze
Ford 2012 Focus
Honda 2003-2012 Accord
Hyundai 2007-2011 Elantra
Not listed Genesis
Not listed Sonata
Infiniti 2007-2011 G35, EX35
Kia 2010-2011 Soul/Forte
Land Rover 2012 Range Rover Evoque
Lexus 2006-2011 IS250, IS350, IS-F
Not listed ES350
Mazda 2004 Mazda 3
2010-2012 Mazda 3
Mercedes 2009-2011 C, GLK
2010-2011 E350, E550
2009-2010 GL, ML
Mitsubishi Not listed Outlander
Nissan 1992-2002 Quest
Not listed Altima
Subaru 2008-2009 Forester
Suzuki 2007-2010 SX4
Toyota 2002-2006 Camry
2009-2011 Corolla, Matrix
2003-2010 Land Cruiser
Volkswagen 2006-2010 Jetta
Volvo Not listed XC60, XC70
Not listed V70, S60, S80