National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials today warned consumers about counterfeit airbags made at overseas manufacturers and installed in cars throughout the U.S.
The counterfeit airbags have been found in more than 75 different makes and models, both domestic and internationally-made cars, and could affect thousands of individuals.
Earlier this year ICE arrested and convicted a Chinese counterfeiter who was found with nine different brands of airbags. And just this year have confiscated more than 2,500 fake airbags.
Consumers are at risk if:
• They have had their car airbag replaced in the last three years, at a repair shop not associated with a new car dealership;
• Purchased a used car that may have had its original airbag replaced;
• Own a car titled branded salvage, rebuilt or reconstructed;
• Got a "too good to be true" deal for airbag replacement; or
• Purchased their airbag from eBay, Craigslist or other non-certified outlet.
Because the faulty airbags are not the fault of car manufacturers or dealers, this is not a mandatory recall and consumers must pay out of pocket to replace the airbag.
"They look like the real thing and unfortunately consumers are not in a position to figure out if they have a fake or a real airbag and they certainly wouldn't be in a position to be able to replace their own airbag," David Strickland, NHTSA administrator said.
Officials urge anyone who has suspicions about their airbags to take their car to an expert for testing and replacement.