Not too long ago, stealing copper pipes out of uninhabited homes was the big get-rich-quick scam of lowlifes everywhere. It looks like those crooks might’ve finally run out of copper to pawn, now going for airbags to sell on the cheap. The problem is that they’re making and selling units that don’t work, which can put your life in danger in the case of an accident.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration just put out a consumer safety advisory warning drivers of the perils associated with counterfeit airbags. It’s called for owners and technicians to use original factory replacement parts instead of whatever brand that they may find on eBay for a discount after discovering some units may not work or may send shrapnel flying in the case of an accident.
Outlined in its warning (and shown in the list below), the NHTSA says that there are a little under 100 models in the U.S. that may have counterfeit airbags available for them. It lists all of them, most made in the last five years, that could be at risk, but the NHTSA reports that only 0.1 percent of cars that have been in an accident and had new airbags fitted are likely to have faulty units. No one had really thought of selling phony airbags before three years ago.
The NHTSA says it’s working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to track down the non-functional airbags, meaning that many of the them are coming from out of the country. They may be purchased by independent repair shops, sometimes knowingly or unknowingly swapped in as replacement units or fillers. Airbags can cost upwards of $500 apiece, making selling them to repair shops a potentially lucrative business.
Consumers that should be concerned are those who’ve had the airbags in their cars replaced within the last three years, own a salvage or rebuilt car, or purchased airbags from a non-certified source. The NHTSA’s transportation secretary, Ray LaHood says “Anytime equipment that is critical to protecting drivers fails to operate properly, it is a serious safety concern. We want consumers to be immediately aware of this problem and to review our safety information to see if their vehicle could be in need of inspection.”
|Audi||2006-2009||A3, A4, A6, A8, Q5, Q7|
|BMW||2007-2011||X5, E70, E60, E61|
|2008-2010||5-series, 528i, 535i|
|2004-2007||5-Series, 525i, 530, 535, E60, E61|
|Not listed||E92, E93|
|2004-2007||525i, 530, 535|
|Land Rover||2012||Range Rover Evoque|
|Lexus||2006-2011||IS250, IS350, IS-F|
|Volvo||Not listed||XC60, XC70|
|Not listed||V70, S60, S80|