If you got a great deal on your replacement air bag, it may be a fake.

Federal safety regulators on Wednesday warned that thousands of car owners may be driving with unsafe, counterfeit air bags.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a video of a counterfeit air bag exploding rather than inflating, sending flames and shrapnel at the head of the crash-test dummy.

The fake airbags could be installed on a small number of late-model cars that were repaired after an accident that deployed their factory-installed air bags. NHTSA says the counterfeits were available for only a small number of models (the full list is below), and only over the last three years.

The agency is warning:

  • Drivers who have had air bags replaced within the last three years, but not at a new-car dealership.
  • Drivers who have purchased a used car that may have had an air bag-deploying crash. (Carfax, which sells vehicle-history reports to used-car buyers, has set up a free air-bag deployment check.)
  • Drivers who own a car with a branded title, sometimes called salvage, rebuilt or reconstructed.
  • Drivers who bought replacement air bags through eBay or other non-certified sources, especially at very low prices.

If you own a vehicle that has undergone air bag replacement in the last three years and is a model included on the list below, NHTSA has arranged call centers for manufacturers to answer questions and to direct you to a dealer who can examine your car to determine if the airbag is safe.

Whop Pays for a New Air Bag?

Unfortunately, the inspection is at your own expense. NHTSA says that could be $100 or more.

An air bag replacement could cost at least $1,000. Most newer cars have at least five, and many have twice that number. (See “How many air bags does a car need?”)

If you car was repaired at a new-car dealership, it shouldn't be affected, NHTSA says. New-car dealerships typically are obligated to buy only original-equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts.

If your car was repaired at one of your insurance company's preferred shops, says CarInsurance.com consumer analyst Penny Gusner, the work is generally guaranteed for as long as you continue to own the vehicle. She suggests calling your insurance company to find out if it will cover any additional needed repair.

If your car was repaired at an independent shop, the mechanic may have used a new, OEM air bag or a non-deployed air bag salvaged from a wrecked car. Either might be perfectly safe. But if your car turns out to have a counterfeit air bag, paying for the replacement is probably between you and the owner of the shop, Gusner says.

Don't repair shops have to use factory parts?

Most states allow insurance companies to use aftermarket parts instead of factory or original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts.   Most states require that repair estimates note the use of non-OEM parts, and some will require your consent.

If your car has been wrecked, your insurance company can't insist that repairs use only aftermarket parts. But you may be asked to pay the difference between OEM and aftermarket costs, which can be substantial.

Some companies allow you to specify use of OEM replacement parts for a higher premium.

If you do decide to use aftermarket replacement parts, your repair estimate typically will note their use. It may call them “like kind and quality” rather than aftermarket or non-OEM. You should look for a sticker from the Certified Automotive Parts Association, which has devised standards for collision repair parts.  

Make  Model years Model Phone
Acura 2009-2011 TSX 1-800-382-2238
Audi 2006-2009 A3, A4, A6, A8, Q5, Q7 1-800-253-2834
BMW 2007-2009 X5, 5 Series 1-800-831-1117
  2008-2010 5 Series, 528i, 535i  
  2004-2007 5 Series, 525i, 530, 535, E60, E61  
  2007-2011 3 Series  
  Not listed 3 Series  
  2007-2011 X5  
  2004-2007 525i, 530, 535  
  2011-2012 X3  
Buick 2010-2011 LaCrosse 1-866-237-3601
Chevrolet 2011-2012 Cruze 1-866-237-3601
   2006-2010 Aveo  
   2011-2012 Volt  
   2012 Camaro  
Ford 2012 Focus 1-800-392-3673
   2005-2009 Mustang  
Honda 2003-2012 Accord 1-800-999-1009
  2006-2011 Civic  
  2002-2011 CR-V  
  2007-2011 Fit  
  2009-2011 Pilot  
  2009-2011  Crosstour  
  2011 Odyssey  
Hyundai 2007-2011 Elantra 1-800-633-5151
  Not listed Genesis  
  Not listed Sonata  
Infiniti 2007-2011 G35, EX35 1-800-662-6200
Kia 2010-2011 Soul/Forte 1-800-333-4542
  2004-2009  Spectra  
Land Rover 2012 Range Rover Evoque 1-800-452-4827
Lexus 2006-2011 IS250, IS350, IS-F 1-800-255-3987
  2003-2008 GX470  
  2007-2009 RX350  
  Not listed ES350  
Mazda 2004, 2010-2012 Mazda3 1-800-222-5500
Mercedes 2009-2011 C, GLK 1-800-367-6372
  2010-2011 E350, E550  
  2006-2008 S550  
  2006-2009 ML  
  2009-2010 GL, ML  
Mitsubishi Not listed Outlander 1-888-648-7820
Nissan 1992-2002, 2010-2011 Quest 1-800-647-7261
  2009-2011 Cube  
  2007-2010 Versa  
  2009-2010 Murano  
  Not listed Altima  
Subaru 2008-2009 Forester 1-800-782-2783
  2008-2009 Impreza  
  2008-2009 Outback  
  2010-2011 Legacy  
Suzuki 2007-2010 SX4
1-800-934-0934
Toyota 2002-2006, 2012 Camry 1-800-331-4331
  2009-2011 Corolla, Matrix  
  2007-2011 Yaris  
  2004-2011 Highlander  
  2004-2011 Sienna  
  2004-2011 Tacoma  
  2010-2012 Prius  
  2003-2006, 2007-2011 Tundra  
  2003-2006 Sequoia  
  2003-2010 Land Cruiser  
  2004-2007, 2008-2010 Highlander  
  2004-2009 Solara  
  2005-2011 RAV4  
Volkswagen 2006-2010 Jetta 1-800-822-8987
Volvo Not listed XC60, XC70
1-800-433-8236
  Not listed V70, S60, S80  

 

The original article can be found at CarInsurance.com:
Who pays for counterfeit air bags?