August 15, 2002

Safety organization warns about false airbags

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Automotive Occupant Restraints Council has issued a warning about false airbag replacements. The Council said some disreputable repair facilities in the United States are installing false airbags in vehicles after original airbags have been deployed and need to be replaced. These vehicles have been discovered at used vehicle lots and in the driveways of unsuspecting buyers.

Instead of containing a real airbag, these replacement units may be stuffed with rags, towels, cans, paper or other useless material. It’s estimated that false and remanufactured airbags installed in North American vehicles number in the thousands, according to the AORC.

“During the last year, two people have died as a result of the installation of false and remanufactured airbags and more than 100 false bags have been discovered in North America,” said George Kirchoff, president of AORC. “We must educate consumers on what to look for and encourage states to pass legislation that makes this illegal.”

Remanufactured airbags are bags that have been reconstructed using parts from different vehicle makes and models. False airbags have been previously deployed and are simply refilled with garbage, or even left empty. Unlike factory-installed airbags, false and remanufactured airbags will not provide protection in the event of a collision.

“There are companies in business that only sell cosmetic airbag covers. When these covers get into vehicles it makes it very difficult for the original or subsequent owner to know if the airbags are real,” said Kirchoff. He recommends that consumers have a local dealer or certified airbag technician inspect replacement airbags that are installed in their vehicles. A certified technician also should inspect airbags in used vehicles that are purchased.

In the U.S. less than 15 states have legislation that regulates airbag installation and replacement.

The Automotive Occupant Restraints Council is an international nonprofit organization representing 50 member companies who develop, manufacture and provide automotive occupant restraints systems, their components and automotive seating.

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