Airbag Fraud in Used Cars
Airbag fraud is a serious issue that is becoming increasingly common in the used car market. The risks of airbag fraud are significant, as it can result in malfunctioning airbags that fail to deploy in the event of an accident, or deploy unexpectedly or even explode while driving, potentially causing serious injury or death.
Airbag fraud can take many different forms, but the most common types involve the installation of counterfeit or non-functional airbags, or the removal of airbags altogether and putting someting like paper in their compartment. In some cases, unscrupulous sellers will even tamper with the airbag warning light to make it appear as though the airbags are working correctly when they are not. You can read more on how defective airbags end up in used or rebuilt damaged cars here.
To protect yourself from the risks of a malfunctioning airbag, there are several steps you can take. First and foremost, it is important to only buy a used car from a reputable dealer or private seller.
- Get a detailed vehicle history report YOURSELF and check for air bag deployment records. If your see one, either search for another vehicle or proceed to the next step
- Ask the seller to provide all the information on any previous accidents or repairs altogether will all the receips naming where the parts come from.
- Check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website to see if there are any recalls related to the airbag for the vehicle
It is also important to be aware of events and incidents that increase the risks of getting a defective airbag in a vehicle. For example, flood-damaged cars are more likely to have malfunctioning airbags due to water damage, while cars that have been in serious accidents may have had their airbags removed or tampered with.
To check an airbag before buying a vehicle, follow these step-by-step instructions:
- Check the airbag warning light: Before you start the engine, turn the key to the "on" position and look for the airbag warning light on the dashboard. The light should turn on momentarily and then turn off once the engine is started. If the light stays on or does not turn on at all, there may be a problem with the airbag system.
- Check the airbag cover: Look at the steering wheel and dashboard to make sure the airbag covers are in place and have not been tampered with. If the covers are missing or loose, it could be a sign that the airbags have been removed or replaced with counterfeit parts.
- Check the VIN number: Look for the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the dashboard or driver's side door jamb and check it against the VIN number on the vehicle history report. If the VIN numbers do not match, it could be a sign that the vehicle has been in an accident and had its airbags replaced.
- Check the airbag module: The airbag module is typically located under the driver's seat or in the center console. Look for signs of tampering or damage, such as broken seals or loose wires. If the airbag module has been tampered with, it could be a sign that the airbags have been replaced with counterfeit parts.
- Get a professional inspection: If you are still unsure about the condition of the airbags, take the vehicle to a professional mechanic or auto body shop for a thorough inspection. They will be able to check the airbag system for any defects or signs of tampering.