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Counterfeit airbags could be a problem in used cars

Much has been said about the ignition switch problems potentially affecting hundreds of thousands of vehicles manufactured by General Motors. One of the difficulties in abating these problems is that many of these vehicles are on the second hand market (i.e. used car lots) where recall notices would not reach owners of these cars.

As has been reported before, the ignition switch problem could lead to loss of power steering and the failure of airbags to deploy. The problem has also been linked to several deaths where airbags malfunctioned. Aside from potential electrical malfunctions, used car buyers may have to deal with the ongoing phenomenon of counterfeit airbags.

A recent azcentral.com report highlighted the arrest of a Phoenix man who was alleged to have manufactured fake airbags to be inserted in used cars. So how does a used car buyer determine if the airbags are faulty? After all, one cannot simply “test” the bags by deploying them. Authorities recommend that buyers inspect the stitching on the steering wheel. Essentially, if the stitches are crooked, crumpled or seem otherwise irregular, chances are that the airbag inside has been tampered with.

Moreover, buyers in California should check the guide that a dealer provides to ensure that the car’s warranty includes all parts, including the airbag system. This is a critical factor in the event that you are in an accident and the airbag does not deploy properly. If the airbag is covered, the dealer could be held liable in the event it malfunctions in an accident. 

Source: azcentral.com “Does your car have a fake airbag,” Stacia Naquin, April 12, 2014

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