There are times when shopping around for the best bargain is a good idea. Buying an airbag for your car is definitely not one of those times. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) recently published a public alert about counterfeit airbags and their dangers.
These counterfeits may appear to be the same as regular brand-name airbags from the major car manufacturers. But they consistently fail to function properly. During NTSA testing, non-certified original equipment airbags often failed to inflate at all, or inflated inadequately, or even blew up and threw shrapnel throughout test cars.
According to the NHTSA’s estimate, tens of thousands of cars in the United States may be equipped with these counterfeit airbags, making them a significant safety risk. So far, there have not yet been any reported injuries from counterfeit airbags. This may be due to the fact that many police and accident investigators do not test malfunctioning airbags to determine if they are counterfeit.
Vehicles are particularly at risk for having counterfeit airbags if they have been in a crash in the last three years and have had their airbags replaced in a shop that is not part of a reputable car dealership.
Recycled airbags are also proving a danger to motorists. Recycled airbags are those that have been salvaged from destroyed or abandoned vehicles and have undergone a safety test to make sure they are still usable. The Automotive Recyclers Association recommends against using them because even with the testing, recycled airbags are more likely to have come in contact with moisture or extreme heat or cold, and therefore are more likely to malfunction.
The best way to avoid the dangers of counterfeit or recycled airbags is to buy your replacement airbag from a new car dealership or auto shop that gets its airbags directly from the manufacturer.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident involving defective airbags, please call the products liability attorneys at Samster Konkel & Safran, S.C. for a free case evaluation.