Replacing your vehicle’s airbag? Watch out for fake ones being sold. They can shoot shrapnel to your face when deployed

So your car was involved in a accident that resulted in the air bags deployed. Your insurance does not cover the deployment, or your insurance company decides to declare your care totalled. So you start the process of reinstalling the airbags. Airbags go around 1-6k. Depending on the model. The one you need goes for 5k. That price is pretty hefty considering insurance is not paying to fix it. You look around at prices and find one on a auction site that goes for $1,000 less then the one from the factory. Both are new and the same air bag model. Everything looks great. You got the cheaper one thinking you got a good deal and your online search skills paid off.  You get it installed, and your car is now good.

But what could happen if you were to get into another incident where the airbags are deployed? You can be in for a very negative experience if the airbags you installed were counterfeit. To most people who don’t follow the counterfeit industry, counterfeit airbags is something you would not have known about. You would have never considered it when buying. You assumed it was all real.

How dangerous are counterfeit airbags?


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That video is from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As you can see the counterfeit airbags are highly dangerous. So much shrapnel is thrown to the test dummies head. If you don’t die from the crash, you may from the fake air bag.

The US government’s test of these counterfeit airbags. Their findings:

Homeland Security Investigations tested some of these airbags from a recent bust. The airbags came from two individuals who were caught and sentenced for selling counterfeit airbags. They found the airbags deploy at half the strength of a original equipment manufacturer (OEM) airbag. And as shown in the video, the airbag shoots plastic and other material at the drivers head, torso and legs.  The material flying the video is from the plastic cover of the counterfeit airbag.

As mentioned before,  most people wont even know they bought a fake airbag. The vast majority of people have never seen a airbag before deployment. I haven’t until I got into the IP protection / anti-counterfeiting industry.

What cars can have a fake airbag?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a car that was bought used and has a new airbag,  a used car that is salvaged or restored/reconstructed could have a fake airbag.  If you brought your car into a auto repair center that is not part of your cars manufacturer’s dealership network, or the airbag was cheaper then competitors, it can also be fake. Because of these counterfeits, most auto repair stores will not install a used airbag, or a airbag out of the supply chain.

How much cars have fake airbags?

According to the NHTSA, “less than 0.1 percent” of all cars in the U.S. have a counterfeit airbag.

How do I know or check if a vehicle has a counterfeit airbag?

Unless your a auto mechanic or someone who knows a lot about airbags, chances are you will not be able to tell. It is recommend that if you bought a used car, to bring the car to a mechanic to see if the bag is real or not. Most tests cost around $100.

Cannot afford to check or want a easier way to see if your airbag is real or not? The US government’s website,  safercar.gov, has a list of all make and models that have been found to have a counterfeit airbag. Just because your car is not on here, it does not mean there are no counterfeit airbags, just non found so far. According to that list, the most popular cars for counterfeit airbags are, BMW, Honda, and Toyota. Only a few makes do no make the list. Jaguars are one.
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How do I avoid buying a counterfeit airbags?

Do not buy your airbags online, especially from a site that allows 3rd party sellers like Amazon, or eBay.

If the price is cheaper then all the other competitors, chances are high it is fake. Airbags are usually competitively priced since only a few factory’s can make and disrupted them. Supply chains for automobiles are very large, but they do not allow random factory’s to come in and start selling airbags.

Counterfeit sellers do get caught and sentenced.

Two brothers, Abdul Masood Qayumi, and Abdul Masih Qayumi were both caught and sent to jail for importing the fake airbags from China and sold them to the US via eBay.

At first, the two denied knowing they were counterfeit, but after investigations in the two’s email, they found proof they knew they were fake. The emails complained to suppliers in China about the quailty of the airbags, and that half of their sales were returned because of customers thinking they were counterfeit airbags.

Because no one has been found hurt from the airbags they sold, they only received light jail time. Masood six months and three years of supervised release, the other brother, Masih, got zero jail time because of time served, but he did get three years of supervised release just like his brother.

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