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Feds warn about fake airbags in rebuilt crashed cars

11:30 PM, Oct 10, 2012   |    comments
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Automobile airbag deployed

ATLANTA -- The driver of a wrecked car, with the front end nearly wiped out, walked away without any injuries because of a factory made airbag.  But a big question is what kind of an airbag will replace it.

It could be counterfeit warns the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  The NHTSA says the fake airbags may be unable to inflate or may explode when deployed.

The defective airbags are showing up on 21 different makes of U.S. and foreign cars and they all have something in common.

The airbags are being replaced by auto repair shops, not dealers, on cars that have been in crashes over the last three years.

The shops are getting them on the so-called "after market" and over the internet.

Blake Barrow, owner of the Barrow Body Shop in Smyrna says the practice can be deadly.

"If the airbag has been deployed it has to be replaced by an airbag from the manufacturer.  If it's a Chevrolet it needs to be a GM airbag, if it's a Jaguar, it needs that manufacturer's airbag.  You would never want to substitute an after-market part in this issue," Barrow said.

Drivers can check to make sure this most important life-saving component is from the manufacturer and is not a fake.

The first step is to go to www.carfax.com/airbag to see if the car has ever has the airbag deployed. The information is free.

A second step:

"They would have to check the repair order and make sure whoever had done the repairs on it is a legitimate company and did buy the part from the manufacturer of the car," Barrow said.

If it doesn't check out, get the airbag replaced immediately by a reputable dealer.

(Further Information: www.nhtsa.gov)

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