Individuals Selling Counterfeit Car Airbags Have Been Apprehended In Our Area

Are you and your car passengers safe?

A Vancouver, Washington man was arrested Tuesday, April 2, 2013 for selling counterfeit airbags from his home via Ebay.

Prosecutors allege between June 2011 and June 2012, 25-year-old Vitaliy Yaremkiv sold at least 964 counterfeit airbags over eBay from his business, Vital Auto Parts and Sales, totaling sales of $137,243, according to U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.

“Counterfeit airbags shred the safety systems built into our cars, which could cause catastrophic results. Counterfeit airbags may fail to deploy in crashes, or deploy in a ball of fire,” Durkan said Thursday in a press release to KGW.

Portland Local News
Vanc. man arrested for selling counterfeit airbags

This Vancouver man apparently had Honda, Subaru, and Toyota counterfeit airbags, but these are not the only car makes that have officials worried at the Nation Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Counterfeit airbags are a national problem with organized crime rings across the USA selling these counterfeits.

Mainly, you have to worry IF you have been in a prior car accident which required your original manufacturer airbags to have to be replaced. If your car still has the original manufacturer airbags from when you bought your car new, you should not really have a huge cause for concern as the counterfeit airbags are primarily sold to independent auto body collision shops and used for repairs without those shops being aware that they are installing risky counterfeit devices.

Not only will these counterfeit airbags not protect you and your passenger in the event of a car accident, they can explode, sending fire and metal shards of shrapnel at velocity with force causing serious injury from the airbag itself. Airbags do save lives, and if you are in a serious auto accident and your airbag not only fails to operate, but itself causes you and your passengers serious harm, this is just scary.

“Anytime equipment that is critical to protecting drivers and passengers fails to operate properly, it is a serious safety concern,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We want consumers to be immediately aware of this problem and to review our safety information to see if their vehicle could be in need of inspection.”

“We expect all motor vehicle equipment to meet federal safety standards — and air bags in particular play a central role in keeping drivers and passengers safe in the event of a crash,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “That’s why it’s critical that vehicle owners work with their automotive dealers and repair professionals to ensure they use the appropriate, original equipment parts in the event they need to replace their air bag.”

NHTSA Press Release October 10, 2012

The government and the NHTSA have released the above video of the official warning, hoping to help consumers and these body shops that are themselves targets for the sale of these counterfeits.

NHTSA has become aware of a problem involving the sale of counterfeit air bags for use as replacement parts in vehicles that have been involved in a crash. While these air bags look nearly identical to certified, original equipment parts—including bearing the insignia and branding of major automakers — NHTSA testing 1 showed consistent malfunctioning ranging from non-deployment of the air bag to the expulsion of metal shrapnel during deployment. NHTSA is not aware of any deaths or injuries connected to counterfeit air bags.

Only vehicles which have had an air bag replaced within the past three years by a repair shop that is not part of a new car dealership may be at risk.

Consumers whose vehicles have been in a crash and had their air bags replaced by a repair shop that is not part of a new car dealership within the past three years or who have purchased a replacement air bag online should contact the call center that has been established by their auto manufacturer to have their vehicle inspected at their own expense and their air bag replaced if necessary.

Many car makes are impacted with this counterfeiting yet the NHTSA estimates that less than 10% of the cars on our roads may be affected with this. Additionally there are not yet any reports of individuals being harmed by counterfeit airbags - let's hope this information gets out there so that any counterfeit problems can be replaced before an individual is harmed.

Here is a list from the US Government for call centers per vehicle make:

American Suzuki Motor Corporation
Land Rover
Acura Client Relations
Kia Consumer Assistance Center
BMW Group
Mercedes–Benz USA
Ford Motor Company
1-800-392-3673 / 1-800-232-5952 (TDD)
Mitsubishi Motors
General Motors
Nissan Consumer Affairs
Honda Automobile Customer Service
Subaru of America, Inc.
Hyundai Motor America Consumer Affairs
Infiniti Consumer Affairs