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Could Your Vehicle’s Airbags Be Harmful?

Written by Ankin Law Office

Airbags are designed to protect motorists and passengers in the event of an auto accident. But in some cases, an airbag could be dangerous. Last fall, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a consumer safety advisory alerting motorists of the dangers associated with counterfeit airbags. According to the NHTSA, counterfeit airbags are being sold for use as replacement parts in vehicles that have been involved in a crash. The counterfeit airbags look nearly identical to certified, original airbags, but NHTSA testing has showed that counterfeit airbags consistently malfunction, including non-deployment and the expulsion of metal shrapnel during deployment.

Although the NHTSA is not aware of any deaths or injuries connected to counterfeit air bags, consumers should be on alert for counterfeit airbags. While the full extent of the problem is unclear, the NHTSA has identified certain vehicle makes and models for which counterfeit airbags may be available. A list of such vehicles can be found on the NHTSA’s website. The full list of call centers and additional information are available at

Consumers That May Be At Risk for Counterfeit Airbags

The following consumers may be at risk for counterfeit airbags and should contact their auto manufacturer immediately:

  • 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 airbag deployment before their purchase
  • Consumers who own a car with a title branded salvage, rebuilt, or reconstructed
  • Consumers who have purchased replacement airbags from eBay or other non-certified sources

Consumers who purchased their vehicle new and have not had their air bags replaced and consumers with full knowledge of the entire history of their used vehicle are not at risk for counterfeit airbags, and do not need to take further action.

In addition to counterfeit airbags, recycled airbags – those that have been salvaged from destroyed or abandoned vehicles – also pose a danger to consumers. Although recycled airbags undergo a safety test to make sure they are still usable, the Automotive Recyclers Association discourages motorists from using recycled airbags because they are more likely to have come in contact with moisture or extreme heat or cold, which can cause them to malfunction.

Auto defects, such as counterfeit airbags, can cause serious damage, personal injury and even death. The NHTSA often receives vehicle safety complaints regarding the following auto defects:

  • Child safety seats
  • Rollovers
  • Defective airbags
  • Car fires
  • Defective seatbelts
  • Tire defects
  • Door latch failure
  • Steering problems
  • Electronic wiring malfunctions
  • Sudden acceleration
  • Defective brakes

If you have suffered injuries or damages as a result of a counterfeit airbag or other auto defect, you may also wish to consult with an attorney.  The Chicago product liability law firm of Ankin Law Office, LLC is dedicated to protecting consumers from dangerous and defective products, including defective vehicles. Contact one of our skilled Chicago personal injury and product liability attorneys at (312) 600-0000 if you would like more information on counterfeit airbags and other auto defects.

Categories: Auto Accidents