For possibly thousands of drivers on the roads, counterfeit airbags have the issue of blowing up rather than inflating as they should in case of accidents. These counterfeit airbags are suspected to be brought in from China, and sold to unsuspecting motorists needing replacements, or purchasing vehicles that are around three years old that have had the airbags changed.
In a testing carried out in the US, out of 11 of these counterfeit airbags tested, 10 failed to inflate on impact, putting drivers at extremely high risk. One of the airbags burst into flames and shot shards of metal shrapnel at a crash test dummy.
Other than the obvious safety concerns, the larger issue facing motorists stems from the cost to detect and replace these counterfeit airbags. The cost is passed down to the consumer since it’s not a manufacturer’s defect, and wasn’t caused by defect at the time of manufacture. Since these airbags are often installed in body shops, the only way to know for sure if your airbags are genuine is if you purchased your vehicle brand new, or had any airbag repairs done by a qualified dealer.
If you’re worried you may have counterfeit airbags installed after an accident, or if your vehicle was purchased after having been used within the last three years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a list of all makes and models of vehicles that counterfeit airbags are known to be made for. The list is being added to continually.
Joan Lowy writes about the increasing incidents of counterfeit airbags and includes valuable information for consumers that may be affected by them in this article on the subject.