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TV5 INVESTIGATES

Counterfeit airbags

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

How confident are you the airbag in your car actually works?

A TV5 investigation tracked down a national trend that's hitting close to home. Your airbags could actually be fake! 

There are increasing concerns that after-market airbags, the kind installed after a first crash occurs, may not deploy properly.

When WNEM started asking questions, it was uncovered that two problems are getting national attention.

First, some airbags are not properly repaired after an initial crash. Second, some airbags are just plain counterfeit - knockoffs that may not keep you safe.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, these products are filling the black market.

So who is at risk, and how do you stop this from happening to you? Experts say that if your airbags have been replaced within the past three years by a repair or body shop or if you purchased a car from used car dealership, then you need to get your airbags checked by an authorized dealership. There is no other way of knowing if you have a fake. 

The problem is not the dealer or at the factory. It's at the body shop level, where experts warn mechanics may take the easy route, leaving out crucial airbag components at the expense of your safety.

Moving forward, several federal agencies, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, are working on a verification system for fake airbags. But until then, drivers need to beware of the situation. Some car dealerships can check, but the cost depends on what type of vehicle you have. Some local dealerships say that it could cost around $100-150 to thoroughly inspect your airbag system.

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