The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSB) is expected to announce a warning about the sale of counterfeit airbags, which could be present in vehicles that have been in a crash previously.
The NHTSB stated that testing revealed the dangers of the counterfeit bags, saying that only vehicles that have had their airbag replaced in the last three years by a repair shop that isn’t part of a new car dealership are affected, reports Reuters.
The safety agency added that there have been no reported deaths or injuries from the fake airbags, which could potentially expel metal shrapnel during deployment instead of a bag.
The full scope of the problem is not yet known, but they believe that the issue affects a very small portion of US vehicles. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated:
“Anytime equipment that is critical to protecting drivers and passengers 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.”
NBC News notes that counterfeit airbags are just a small part of the problem with counterfeit parts in the auto industry today. The affected parts are essentially anything in the car. Fake airbags pose a big problem since they could either not deploy or deploy incorrectly in the event of a crash.
David Strickland, the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, stated, “Air bags in particular play a central role in keeping drivers and passengers safe in the event of a crash.”
The NHTSA believes that the challenge involved is trying to find vehicles that are affected by the fake airbags. They believe the most affected models are Japanese and European models that include popular cars like the Ford Focus, Toyota Camry, and Volkswagon Jetta.
The government has been investigating the problem of counterfeit airbags for years and have even intercepted shipments in raids like one in North Carolina in August where 1,163 fakes were intercepted by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.