NHTSA: Non-deployment, metal shrapnel concerns in counterfeit airbags

WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S . Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a consumer safety alert concerning the dangers of counterfeit air bags.

The NHTSA says the administration became aware of the problem involving the sale of counterfeit airbags as a replacement part.  In a press release Wednesday, NHTSA said, "While these air bags look nearly identical to certified original equipment parts -- including bearing the insignia and branding of major automaker -- NHTSA testing shows consistent malfunctioning."

John Morton, the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said these counterfeit air bags don't work.

"[They were] manufactured overseas, fraudulently labeled, and illegally imported into the country," said Morton. "These seemingly genuine air bags are in fact shoddy fakes that pose a significant safety hazard when installed."

"They won't save you in an accident, period," he added.

Issues ranged from non-deployment to the expulsion of metal shrapnel. NHTSA says they are not aware of any deaths or injuries in connection to the malfunctioning air bags.

NHTSA says drivers are only at risk if the air bag in their vehicle has been replaced in the last three years by a repair shop not associated with a new car dealership. They believe this problem will affect less than 0.1 percent of U.S. vehicles.

Drivers are being instructed to contact their auto manufacturer's call center should they feel they are at risk. Drivers will be responsible for having their vehicle inspected at their own expense.

For a full list of call centers and additional information visit. www.SaferCar.gov .

                          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:

·         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) 

**For a full list of vehicle makes and models that may be affected click here**

**Here's the link to the vehicle manufacturers' call center numbers**

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