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Brett Emison
Brett Emison
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CNET Asks: Is Your Airbag Your Enemy?

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I wrote about a national consumer alert warning about fake airbags last fall. Popular technology web site c|net recently took a look at the NHTSA safety advisory on counterfeit airbags and asked: Is your airbag your enemy?

Danger of Aftermarket Auto Parts

Insurance companies routinely claim that recycled, reused, and/or aftermarket parts are of "like kind and quality" to original equipment (OEM) parts. In fact, many insurance companies try to require such parts (if state law permits them) when making repairs. However, most car makers warn that using aftermarket or salvaged parts may put vehicle owners at risk in an accident or collision. The testing and most recent warning from NHTSA seems to bear this out.

On November 30, 2010, Toyota announced that it recommend against the use of alternative parts for the repair of Toyota vehicles. “Toyota’s recommendation is to use only OEM parts due to the lack of testing and potential safety and performance risk of alternative parts,” according to Toyota’s press release.

Ford Motor Company issued its own press release regarding non-OEM parts just a day earlier. Ford’s aftermarket parts warning included the results of tests performed by Ford’s Material Composition and Computer Aided Engineering department comparing OEM bumper beams, bumper isolators, bumper brackets, and radiator supports to their aftermarket equivalents.

The Ford tests found major differences between genuine Ford original equipment replacement parts and aftermarket copies. Ford found that non-OEM parts performed differently in crash tests because the aftermarket parts were not of like kind and quality as Ford’s original equipment and certified replacement parts.

The risk of counterfeit air bags includes nearly every major make and model. NHTSA has provided additional information and a full list of call centers at www.SaferCar.gov.

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