Edmunds.com Advises Car Owners to Reconsider Installing Inexpensive Recycled Airbags
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — December 12, 2012 — Car owners who need to replace a vehicle's airbag should only consider replacements produced by the car's manufacturer, says Edmunds.com, the premier resource for car shopping and automotive information. And while it's perfectly legal — and often a lot cheaper — to use recycled non-deployed airbags from identical vehicles, Edmunds.com says that car owners should exercise extreme caution before taking that route.
"This is one of those classic examples of ‘better safe than sorry,'" says Edmunds.com Consumer Advice Editor Carroll Lachnit. "So while a recycled airbag could be installed as an affordable last resort, we encourage everyone to exhaust all replacement options through a new car dealership that works directly with the original manufacturers."
To its credit, the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) is quick to offer evidence that shows recycled airbags perform to their mandated specifications. The organization has also established a 12-step certification process to cover the extraction, handling, inspection and storage of recycled airbags. But critics say that recycled airbags are more likely to have been exposed to moisture and extreme temperatures, which could render the airbags useless.
More details about the safety and debate surrounding recycled airbags can be found at http://www.edmunds.com/car-safety/are-recycled-oem-non-deployed-airbags-safe.html.
Another reason to work directly with the manufacturer is the increasing number of counterfeit airbags imported from China. Edmunds.com reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a recent consumer advisory warning both vehicle owners and repair professionals about the counterfeits and the dangers they pose. The advisory identified a number of factors that could mean that a counterfeit airbag was installed in a car, such as:
- The airbag was replaced within the past three years at a repair shop that is not part of a new-car dealership.
- The replacement airbag was purchased from eBay or another source not certified by the automaker.
- The cost of the replacement airbag was unusually low compared to the normal price of an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) airbag, which generally is $400-$500.
- The color of the counterfeit airbag trim cover is slightly different from the OEM parts.
- The letters "SRS," which are embossed or molded into the vinyl trim cover, are not well defined.
To learn about more signs of a counterfeit airbag installation, or to seek out a proper diagnosis and/or fix for a counterfeit airbag, please visit http://www.edmunds.com/car-safety/is-your-replacement-airbag-a-dangerous-counterfeit.html.
About Edmunds.com, Inc.
At Edmunds.com, we're committed to helping people find the car that meets their every need. Almost 18 million visitors use our research, shopping and buying tools every month to make an easy and informed decision on their next new or used car. Whether you're at the dealership or on the go, we're always by your side with our five-star Edmunds.com iPhone and iPad apps and our Edmunds.com Android App. Our comprehensive car reviews, shopping tips, photos, videos and feature stories offer a friendly and authentic approach to the automotive world. We're based in Santa Monica, Calif., but you can connect with us from anywhere by following @Edmunds on Twitter or by becoming a fan of Edmunds.com on Facebook.