Gov't to warn motorists about counterfeit air bags - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Government alerts drivers about counterfeit airbags

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WASHINGTON (AP/KCTV) -

A warning is out about an extreme safety risk in a lot of cars. The government wants to alert drivers about counterfeit airbags.

When a person is in an accident, their life typically depends on their seatbelt and their airbags. But now the government is issuing a warning to all drivers, one that everyone needs to pay close attention to.

At Sinclair auto care service in Lee's Summit, MO, there's a golden rule regarding if a customer comes in and needs a new airbag.

"We always purchase airbags through the manufacturers," Derek Sanders with Sinclair said.

But there are plenty of trusting customers elsewhere in the country who aren't as fortunate. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is issuing a warning saying thousands of drivers may be unknowingly driving a car with counterfeit airbags - airbags from overseas sold cheap to auto repair shops across the country.

"If you probably purchase aftermarket or used, you don't know how they're going to operate," Sanders said.

Video shows how some of the counterfeit airbags do operate and it shows everything from barely deploying at all to an airbag exploding on impact, bursting metal and plastic shrapnel all over what would be the driver's face.

"It could put the owners of those vehicles at serious risk for injury when those airbags either fail to deploy or deploy in the wrong manger," Larry Gamache with Carfax said.

Anyone who's had an airbag replaced in the last three years should get it checked. At this point, no serious injuries or deaths have been reported, but officials fear that could change.

People worried about their car can always go to Carfax's website and pop in their VIN. If the airbags on the car they're driving have been deployed in an accident, there's a good chance they'll have a record of it. But officials advised that people don't count on Carfax alone.

"If you have concerns about your airbag, take it to a trusted mechanic and have them inspect your safety system. Only a mechanic can tell you whether your airbag system is performing properly," Gamache said.

Fees for checking out air bags could run $100 or more, industry officials said. Some types of cars have as many as eight air bags.

The counterfeit bags typically have been made to look like air bags made by automakers and usually include a manufacturer's logo. Government investigators believe many of the bags come from China, an industry official said.

The bags are marketed to auto body shops as the real deal, officials said. Auto dealerships that operate their own body shops are usually required by their franchise agreements to buy their parts, including air bags, directly from automakers and therefore are unlikely to have installed counterfeit bags, officials said.

But only 37 percent of auto dealers have their own body shops, according to information on the National Association of Automobile Dealers' website. Many consumers whose vehicles have been damaged are referred by their insurance companies to auto body shops that aren't affiliated with an automaker.

There are dozens of cars already on the government list to get check out and they said that list is growing.

Click here for more information from NHTSA.

As of Wednesday, NHTSA is aware of counterfeit air bags available for the following vehicle makes and models:

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

Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.)  and the Associated Press.  All rights reserved.

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