A Suzuki Slash getting its air bags tested in 2012. (Photo : Flickr)
If the airbags in your car have been replaced in the last two or three years, be cautious: they may not work as they're supposed to.
A spokesperson for President Barack Obama stated that there is a growing concern for drivers in the U.S. within his administration due to the fact that drivers may be driving with harmful counterfeit airbags.
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"Organized criminals are selling dangerous counterfeit and substandard air bags to consumers and suppliers with little to no regard to hazardous health and safety consequences," said Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton to The Washington Post.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said today that while less than 1 percent of U.S. vehicles have been affected already by the problem, they're concerned the number will continue to grow.
The problem only affects cars that have had their airbags replaced at auto body shops, not if they were replaced at a specific car dealership.
Tens of thousands of cars in the U.S. are on the road already with counterfeit air bags. This is an issue because if the driver ever gets into an accident, there is a good chance the airbags won't inflate at all or won't inflate properly to prevent injuries from occurring in the crash.
If you have purchased an airbag on websites such as eBay or for a mysteriously low price, you may also be at risk as well.
The NHTSA has already started making up a list of automakers and specific cars that may contain counterfeit airbags. They expect the list to continue to grow as they move forward in their investigations. Their main goal right now is to start preventing counterfeit air bags from being sold and installed into more vehicles before they start addressing cars that contain them currently.
No deaths or injuries have been reported yet.
People that should not be at risk include those who have purchased a new car within the last two years or know the entire history of their car including the type of airbags that have been installed in their vehicle.
To receive more information on counterfeit air bags or to find out if your car is currently at risk, check out the government website SafeCar for more details.