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Greg Webb
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Beware of Counterfeit Air Bags

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Do you think you’have seen every fake product or knock-off on the market to fool consumers? Read The Los Angeles Times' article on counterfeit air bags in automobiles that have been repaired for another astounding scam. Counterfeit hand-bags, I’d understand; but counterfeit air bags? Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood says fake air bags are being installed by auto repair shops across the country. The bad news is the fake air bags may not deploy when needed and when they do deploy they may explode "sending metal shrapnel into the vehicle’s passenger cabin.” NHTSA has issued a warning to consumers.

Apparently, the fake air bags look a lot like the real ones, including brand logos, and the problem affects almost every major auto brand. NHTSA says, after testing, either they don’t work or they “malfunction dangerously” and “consumers can be killed in a crash.” Not a pleasant thought for auto owners who have no way of disabling repaired air bags on their own.

The installation of fake air bags usually occurs after an accident when an air bag must be repaired by a repair shop that is not part of a new car dealership. Clarence Ditlow, Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety, says, air bags “can’t save lies if they have not been repaired properly.” California keeps track of air bag deployments where cars involved in vehicle crashes must be towed, and according to the article, there are an estimated 150,000 air bag deployments a year in that State.

David Strickland Administrator of the NHTSA expects “all motor vehicle equipment to meet federal standards,” especially air bags—so, he says, owners need to work with their automotive dealers and repair professionals to ensure they use the correct, original equipment when repairing air bags. Meanwhile, NHTSA and American and foreign automakers have set up call centers with toll-free phone numbers that consumers may call if they think their vehicle may have been repaired with a fake air bag. For the list of toll-free numbers, please visit:

www.safercar.gov/Vehicle+Shoppers/Air+Bags/Counterfeit+Air+Bags+Contact+List