Fake airbags being fitted to cars are putting lives at serious risk. Investigators for the US Government have found tens of thousands of counterfeit airbags have been fitted to cars across the US.
It’s believed the counterfeits, which are manufactured in China and often feature a valid manufacturer’s logo to help the deception, suffer from a number of malfunctions such as not inflating properly or not inflating at all. One test by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) actually saw a rogue airbag fire metal shrapnel, while others have caught fire.
Anyone in the US who has needed to replace an airbag at an independent garage or workshop within the last three years may have been affected. Current reports state more than 75 makes and models have been found with the fake airbags, affecting what’s believed to be 0.1 per cent of vehicles.
Examples of the issue have been numerous. In 2012, 2,500 fake airbags were found when a Chinese counterfeiter was arrested and convicted. And a car mechanic from North Carolina was recently charged with trafficking thousands of counterfeit airbags, a business that netted him $1.4million. He allegedly purchased 7,000 from China and sold them on eBay between February, 2011, and May, 2012.
So far, thankfully, there have been no reported deaths or reports of anyone ending up with a face full of shrapnel. But if you suspect your car’s airbag is a possible dud, you’ll need to cough up between $100 and $200 dollars. It’s hardly small change, but very good value when you remember those air sacks could save you or someone else’s life.
Speaking to ABC news, NHTSA administrator David Strickland said, “They look like the real thing and unfortunately consumers are not in a position to figure out if they have a fake or a real airbag and they certainly wouldn’t be in a position to be able to replace their own airbag.”
The Vehicle Operator and Standards Agency (VOSA) has allayed fears the issue is present in the UK. Count your faces lucky.