After a crash in which the air bags deploy, vehicles that are still roadworthy require maintenance. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a warning to consumers who have had replacement air bags installed after car crashes over the past three years. The NHTSA has discovered that counterfeit air bags have been installed in some vehicles repaired during that time frame. These air bags may fail to deploy in the event of another accident. In addition, some counterfeit bags have been found to discharge metal shrapnel when they do deploy. The counterfeit air bags have not yet been tied to any injuries or fatalities.
The air bags are difficult to distinguish from certified parts, and many of them have the insignia of the automaker on them. The NHTSA is recommending that consumers who have had air bags installed in their vehicles at a repair shop other than those at new car dealerships contact one of the call centers set up by the automakers. A vehicle inspection and air bag replacement may be necessary.
Counterfeit air bags have been discovered for a wide range of vehicles. The NHTSA has found counterfeit products for multiple models from popular car companies such as Toyota, Ford, Honda, BMW and Chevrolet. The agency is working with officials from the Department of Justice, Customs and Immigration to gain a better understanding of the problem and to find methods to stop the proliferation of counterfeit air bags.
Source: The Chicago Tribune, "Safety regulators warn about counterfeit air bags," by Ben Klayman, 10 October 2012