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NHTSA Warns of Counterfeit Airbags

October 11, 2012

WASHINGTON — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is alerting vehicle owners and repair shops that counterfeit air bags that look identical to original equipment parts are being offered for sale. The replacement parts are said to bear the insignia and branding of major automakers.

After testing, the NHTSA said the counterfeits showed consistent malfunctions, ranging from non-deployment of the air bag to the expulsion of metal shrapnel during deployment. The agency said it’s not aware of any deaths or injuries connected to counterfeit air bags.

While the full scope and scale of the problem of counterfeit air bags is uncertain from currently available data, the NHTSA has identified certain vehicle makes and models for which these air bags may be available. It said that it believes the issue will affect less than 0.1 percent of the U.S. vehicle fleet, adding that 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.

The full list of call centers and additional information are available at www.SaferCar.gov.

“Any time 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.”

With the NHTSA announcement, Carfax released a statement underscoring the importance of checking used cars.            

“Airbags are one of most crucial parts of a car’s safety system,” said Larry Gamache, communications director at Carfax. “We have created a free service to check for prior air bag deployments reported to Carfax at www.carfax.com/airbag. In addition, the airbag systems of any used car, especially those with prior damage, should be inspected by a qualified mechanic, body shop or airbag specialist to ensure they are working properly.”

NHTSA has been working with a number of government agencies — including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), 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.

“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.”

The 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.

VEHICLES FOR WHICH COUNTERFEIT AIR BAGS MAY BE AVAILABLE:

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

2011-2012

X3

Buick

2010-2011

Lacrosse

Chevrolet

2011-2012

Cruze

2006-2010

Aveo

2011-2012

Volt

2012

Camaro

Ford

2012

Focus

2005-2009

Mustang

Honda

2003-2012

Accord

2006-2011

Civic

2002-2011

CRV

2007-2011

Fit

2009-2011

Pilot

2009-2011

Insight

2009-2011

Crosstour

2011

Odyssey

Hyundai

2007-2011

Elantra

Not listed

Genesis

Not listed

Sonata

Infiniti

2007-2011

G35, EX35

Kia

2010-2011

Soul/Forte

2004-2009

Spectra

Land Rover

2012

Range Rover Evoque

Lexus

2006-2011

IS250, IS350, IS-F

2003-2008

GX470

2007-2009

RX350

Not listed

ES350

Mazda

2004

Mazda 3

2010-2012

Mazda 3

Mercedes

2009-2011

C, GLK

2010-2011

E350, E550

2007-2008

S550

2006-2009

ML

2009-2010

GL, ML

Mitsubishi

Not listed

Outlander

Nissan

1992-2002

Quest

2010-2011

Quest

2009-2011

Cube

2007-2011

Versa

2009-2010

Murano

Not listed

Altima

Subaru

2008-2009

Forester

 

2008-2009

Imprezza

 

2008-2009

Outback

 

2010-2011

Legacy

Suzuki

2007-2010

SX4

Toyota

2002-2006

Camry

2012

Camry

2009-2011

Corolla, Matrix

2007-2011

Yaris

2004-2011

Highlander

2004-2011

Sienna

2004-2011

Tacoma

2010-2012

Prius

2003-2006

Tundra

2007-2011

Tundra

2003-2006

Sequoia

2003-2010

Land Cruiser

2004-2007

Highlander

2008-2010

Highlander

2004-2009

4Runner

2007-2009

Solara

2005-2011

RAV4

Volkswagen

2006-2010

Jetta

Volvo

Not listed

XC60, XC70

Not listed

V70, S60, S80

 

 

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