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Ohio drivers, peers nationally: Note fake air bag concerns

Drivers in Ohio and across the country might want to rack their brain to recall whether they have had new air bags replaced in the past few years. According to warnings issued by federal safety officials, those air bags could be counterfeit and subjecting drivers and passengers to serious risk in the event of a car accident.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that a number of vehicles on U.S. roadways might be driving around with counterfeit air bags that may not deploy in the event of a car crash. Even worse, there is the potential for these air bags to explode upon impact, sending metal shrapnel flying out into the vehicle’s cabin.

That presents a very serious safety threat to motor vehicle operators and their passengers. Although it is suspected that only a small percentage of vehicles have had counterfeit air bags installed, the risks are very high, prompting safety officials to take a proactive approach. The counterfeit air bags are difficult to differentiate from standard air bags because they bear the same identifying markers as those provided as stock equipment.

Officials note that the only vehicles at risk of counterfeit air bags are those that have been installed by auto repair shops. Dealership installations are not at risk. And only air bags installed within the past three years are possible counterfeits.

If your vehicle’s air bags meet these conditions, contact the NHTSA or your auto manufacturer for more information on how you can get your air bags checked and, if needed, replaced.

Source: New York Times, “Counterfeit air bags could malfunction, explode, regulators warn,” Jerry Hirsch, Oct. 10, 2012