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Used Car Shoppers Should be Wary of Counterfeit Airbags

If you’re shopping for a used car that was in an accident and received new airbags within the last three years, it could be equipped with counterfeit airbags.  Although less than 0.1 percent of the U.S. vehicle fleet is at risk, the National Highway Traffic Administration says vehicles with counterfeit airbags are a safety hazard.

According to NHTSA, counterfeit airbags look just like the original airbags and often have the appropriate automaker label. “The group's tests have found that many of these bags consistently malfunction; issues reported range from non-deployment to shrapnel being projected during deployment,” says Kicking Tires

If you are the original vehicle owner and haven’t had the airbags replaced, it is unlikely that your car has counterfeit airbags. If you own a used vehicle but have complete vehicle repair records and know that airbag maintenance was done at a new car dealership, your airbags should be authentic. However, if your vehicle falls under any of the following categories, you should contact an automaker call center and schedule an inspection:

  • An auto shop that isn’t associated with a new car dealership replaced airbags within the last three years
  • A used car with airbags that may have deployed
  • The vehicle was rebuilt, reconstructed or was a title branded salvage
  • New airbags were bought online or from a non-certified source

NHTSA has provided a list of at-risk vehicles, which is included below. Vehicle owners who think their car may have counterfeit airbags should arrange an inspection, and if necessary, make repairs. This is not a recall, which means the car’s owner must pay for inspections, maintenance and replacement airbags. The Associated Press spoke with Bailey Wood, a spokesman for the National Automobile Dealers Association, who says that inspections could cost $100 to $200, and that certain airbags can cost up to $1,000 to replace.

It’s important that used car shoppers research a vehicle’s history thoroughly before purchasing. Resources such as Carfax allow you to use the vehicle identification number (VIN) to learn more about accidents and repairs. Dealers can also use the VIN to check serial numbers for the original airbags.

Shopping for a new car? Check out the U.S. News rankings of this year's best cars. Then, look for a great deal on a new car by checking out this month’s best car deals. You can also find the best local prices in the area by using our Best Price Program. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

The following vehicles may be equipped with counterfeit airbags:

Automaker

Vehicle and Model Year

Acura

2009-2011 TSX

Audi

2006-2009 A3, A4, A6, A8, Q5, Q7

BMW

2007-2011 X5, E70, E60, E61

2008-2010 5-series, 528i, 535i

2004-2007 5-Series, 525i, 530, 535, E60, E61

2007-2011 E90, E91

No model year listed: E92, E93

2007-2011 X5, E70

2004-2007 525i, 530, 535

2011-2012 X3

Buick

2010-2011 Lacrosse

Chevrolet

2011-2012 Cruze

2006-2010 Aveo

2011-2012 Volt

2012 Camaro

Ford

2012 Focus

2005-2009 Mustang

Honda

2003-2012 Accord

2006-2011 Civic

2002-2011 CR-V

2007-2011 Fit

2009-2011 Pilot

2009-2011 Insight

2009-2011 Crosstour

2011 Odyssey

Hyundai

2007-2011 Elantra

No model year listed: Genesis, Sonata

Infiniti

2007-2011 G35, EX35

Kia

2010-2011 Soul

2010-2011 Forte

2004-2009 Spectra

Land Rover

2012 Range Rover Evoque

Lexus

2006-2011 IS250, IS350, IS-F

2003-2008 GX470

2007-2009 RX350

No model year listed: ES350

Mazda

2004 Mazda 3

2010-2012 Mazda 3

Mercedes

2009-2011 C, GLK

2010-2011 E350, E550

2007-2008 S550

2006-2009 ML

2009-2010 GL, ML

Mitsubishi

No model year listed: Outlander

Nissan

1992-2002 Quest

2010-2011 Quest

2009-2011 Cube

2007-2011 Versa

2009-2010 Murano

No model year listed: Altima

Subaru

2008-2009 Forester

2008-2009 Imprezza

2008-2009 Outback

2010-2011 Legacy

Suzuki

2007-2010 SX4

Toyota

2002-2006 Camry

2012 Camry

2009-2011 Corolla, Matrix

2007-2011 Yaris

2004-2011 Highlander

2004-2011 Sienna

2004-2011 Tacoma

2010-2012 Prius

2003-2006 Tundra

2007-2011 Tundra

2003-2006 Sequoia

2003-2010 Land Cruiser

2004-2007 Highlander

2008-2010 Highlander

2004-2009 4Runner

2007-2009 Solara

2005-2011 RAV4

Volkswagen

2006-2010 Jetta

Volvo

No model year listed XC60, XC70, V70, S60, S80

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