Thousands of car owners are in danger of driving cars that may have counterfeit air bags, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said recently. Most at risk are owners of dealerships and dozens of vehicle models (listed on the NHTSA website) who replaced their air bags outside of dealerships within the last three years. Also at risk are owners of second-hand cars that may contain replaced air bags that were installed within the last three years; and purchasers of air bags online, according to NBC Chicago. The NHTSA said car owners may go to www.Safercar.gov to help determine whether their car is at risk.
Owners with cars confirmed to have fake air bags should replace them immediately. Last month, the NHTSA tested 11 counterfeit bags, ten of which didn’t inflate, or inflated improperly. One counterfeit bag released metal shards, shrapnel, and flames at a dummy. It costs from $100.00 to $200.00 to check air bags. Replacement can cost between $750.00 to $1,000.00 if it is located at the driver’s side center, and even more depending on the make and model of the car. Some cars have up to eight air bags.
So far, some 2,500 fake air bags were seized by government authorities this year. The NHTSA warned that the size of the problem is not yet clear and the numbers may change. Some 1.5 million vehicle crashes are reported annually where air bags are used. Government investigators believe many of the counterfeiters are in China. The counterfeiters make the fake air bags by purchasing genuine ones, tearing them down and making molds for the counterfeit air bags. Then, they purchase trademark emblems from dealerships in China such as Audi, BMW, Honda, and Toyota to place on the fake air bags.
These are fraudulently sold to body shops and auto repair shops in the US as genuine. Auto dealers with their own body shops (comprising 37 percent of all dealers) are not susceptible to the counterfeit bags. Neither are franchisers who are required to buy all car parts from the main dealership.
Last August, some 1,600 fake air bags were confiscated, and an auto mechanic from North Carolina, who was tied to a similar case in Tennessee last year, was arrested. Last February, Dai Zhensong, a Chinese national working in Chattanooga, Tenn., was sentenced by a federal court to 37 months imprisonment for selling fake air bags. Zhensong is co-owner and manager of the Guangzhou Auto Parts, international division. In 2010 he went to Tennessee to sell counterfeit auto parts and air bags, which were also featured on Guangzhou Auto Parts’ website. They were sold for $50 to $70 each, an incredibly low price.
If you have been injured by a counterfeit airbag, contact Mike Agruss Law, at 888-572-0176 to discuss your case. We are here to protect your rights under the law.