Car air bags can spare a life or save a driver or passenger from serious injury.  But what happens if the airbag itself is dangerous? Research in recent years led to new advisories for car owners about the proper positioning and use of airbags with children. In October, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) alerted consumers to an influx of counterfeit airbags into the United States.

Made in China, the counterfeit airbags look like the real airbags installed by major car companies, but harbor serious danger.  In extensive testing by NHTSA, the counterfeit airbags did not appropriately deploy or when they did, spewed flame and metal shrapnel into the car. Although the NHTSA does not yet know the full scope of the problem in the United States, the list of potentially affected automobiles is extensive, including BMW, Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, Mercedes and others.

Which airbags may be at risk?

If your car’s airbags appear to be at risk, contact your dealer to find out what to do next   The NHTSA believes certain consumer cars not at risk are safe. They include:

  • New cars purchased from the manufacturer that have not had replacement airbags installed
  • Cars whose history is known and in which airbag replacement in the last three years were conducted by a new car dealership

Cars potentially at risk include:

  • Cars with airbags replaced at a repair shop, not a new car dealership
  • Automobiles purchased as salvage, reconstructed or rebuilt
  • Cars without a fully known accident or repair history
  • Any car with airbags purchased outside a new car dealership, especially at low cost

If you are injured by a counterfeit air bag, contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately.