Who Pays To Replace Counterfeit Air Bags?

If you got a great deal on your replacement air bag, it may be a fake.

Federal safety regulators on Wednesday warned that thousands of car owners may be driving with unsafe, counterfeit air bags.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a video of a counterfeit air bag exploding rather than inflating, sending flames and shrapnel at the head of the crash-test dummy.

The fake airbags could be installed on a small number of late-model cars that were repaired after an accident that deployed their factory-installed air bags. NHTSA says the counterfeits were available for only a small number of models (the full list is below), and only over the last three years.

The agency is warning:
  • Drivers who have had air bags replaced within the last three years, but not at a new-car dealership.
  • Drivers who have purchased a used car that may have had an air bag-deploying crash. (Carfax, which sells vehicle-history reports to used-car buyers, has set up a free air-bag deployment check.)
  • Drivers who own a car with a branded title, sometimes called salvage, rebuilt or reconstructed.
  • Drivers who bought replacement air bags through eBay or other non-certified sources, especially at very low prices.

If you own a vehicle that has undergone air bag replacement in the last three years and is a model included on the list below, NHTSA has arranged call centers for manufacturers to answer questions and to direct you to a dealer who can examine your car to determine if the airbag is safe.

Who pays for a new air bag?

Unfortunately, the inspection is at your own expense. NHTSA says that could be $100 or more.

An air bag replacement could cost at least $1,000. Most newer cars have at least five, and many have twice that number. (See “ How many air bags does a car need?”)

If you car was repaired at a new-car dealership, it shouldn't be affected, NHTSA says. New-car dealerships typically are obligated to buy only original-equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts.

If your car was repaired at one of your insurance company's preferred shops, says CarInsurance.com consumer analyst Penny Gusner, the work is generally guaranteed for as long as you continue to own the vehicle. She suggests calling your insurance company to find out if it will cover any additional needed repair.

If your car was repaired at an independent shop, the mechanic may have used a new, OEM air bag or a non-deployed air bag salvaged from a wrecked car. Either might be perfectly safe. But if your car turns out to have a counterfeit air bag, paying for the replacement is probably between you and the owner of the shop, Gusner says.

Don't repair shops have to use factory parts?

Most states allow insurance companies to use aftermarket parts instead of factory or original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts.   Most states require that repair estimates note the use of non-OEM parts, and some will require your consent.

If your car has been wrecked, your insurance company can't insist that repairs use only aftermarket parts. But you may be asked to pay the difference between OEM and aftermarket costs, which can be substantial.

Some companies allow you to specify use of OEM replacement parts for a higher premium.

If you do decide to use aftermarket replacement parts, your repair estimate typically will note their use. It may call them “like kind and quality” rather than aftermarket or non-OEM. You should look for a sticker from the Certified Automotive Parts Association, which has devised standards for collision repair parts.
Make  Model years Model Phone
Acura 2009-2011 TSX 1-800-382-2238
Audi 2006-2009 A3, A4, A6, A8, Q5, Q7 1-800-253-2834
BMW 2007-2009 X5, 5 Series 1-800-831-1117
2008-2010 5 Series, 528i, 535i
2004-2007 5 Series, 525i, 530, 535, E60, E61
2007-2011 3 Series
Not listed 3 Series
2007-2011 X5
2004-2007 525i, 530, 535
2011-2012 X3
Buick 2010-2011 LaCrosse 1-866-237-3601
Chevrolet 2011-2012 Cruze 1-866-237-3601
   2006-2010 Aveo
   2011-2012 Volt
   2012 Camaro
Ford 2012 Focus 1-800-392-3673
   2005-2009 Mustang
Honda 2003-2012 Accord 1-800-999-1009
2006-2011 Civic
2002-2011 CR-V
2007-2011 Fit
2009-2011 Pilot
2009-2011  Crosstour
2011 Odyssey
Hyundai 2007-2011 Elantra 1-800-633-5151
Not listed Genesis
Not listed Sonata
Infiniti 2007-2011 G35, EX35 1-800-662-6200
Kia 2010-2011 Soul/Forte 1-800-333-4542
2004-2009  Spectra
Land Rover 2012 Range Rover Evoque 1-800-452-4827
Lexus 2006-2011 IS250, IS350, IS-F 1-800-255-3987
2003-2008 GX470
2007-2009 RX350
Not listed ES350
Mazda 2004, 2010-2012 Mazda3 1-800-222-5500
Mercedes 2009-2011 C, GLK 1-800-367-6372
2010-2011 E350, E550
2006-2008 S550
2006-2009 ML
2009-2010 GL, ML
Mitsubishi Not listed Outlander 1-888-648-7820
Nissan 1992-2002, 2010-2011 Quest 1-800-647-7261
2009-2011 Cube
2007-2010 Versa
2009-2010 Murano
Not listed Altima
Subaru 2008-2009 Forester 1-800-782-2783
2008-2009 Impreza
2008-2009 Outback
2010-2011 Legacy
Suzuki 2007-2010 SX4
Toyota 2002-2006, 2012 Camry 1-800-331-4331
2009-2011 Corolla, Matrix
2007-2011 Yaris
2004-2011 Highlander
2004-2011 Sienna
2004-2011 Tacoma
2010-2012 Prius
2003-2006, 2007-2011 Tundra
2003-2006 Sequoia
2003-2010 Land Cruiser
2004-2007, 2008-2010 Highlander
2004-2009 Solara
2005-2011 RAV4
Volkswagen 2006-2010 Jetta 1-800-822-8987
Volvo Not listed XC60, XC70
Not listed V70, S60, S80