AIR BAG REVIEW

Be Proactive About Air Bag Safety



Air bags have been a hot industry topic for the last couple months and the auto recycling industry has had to stay on top of the topic.

In November 2014 nearly 8 million air bags, manufactured by Japan-based Takata Corp., were recalled for safety defects. These air bags are installed on vehicles made by Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigated reports of air bag inflator ruptures, all of which occurred in Florida and Puerto Rico.

In response to the recall, ARA filed a class action lawsuit against Takata Corp. It also included Takata’s subsidiaries TK Holdings, Inc. and Highland Industries, Inc. and numerous automotive manufacturers. The complaint alleged that Takata and the auto manufacturers withheld and / or misled automotive recyclers about the safety and reliability of the allegedly defective air bags, which led auto recyclers to over pay for now worthless air bags.

It’s always a good idea to remind consumers that recycled air bags are safe and are the same air bags OE manufacturers use. ARA has several safety standards in place for recycled OE air bags.

ARA Product Services LLC launched ARAPro in 2006 (www.airbagresources.com) to ensure body shops and consumers that OEM non-deployed air bags that carry the ARAPro brand meet the standards required by the ARA Protocol. The protocol was developed as a national standard to ensure best practices are applied to the process of extracting, handling, inspecting and storing recycled air bags from salvaged vehicles.

According to the site, each ARAPro air bag module is:

  • Conforming with the accepted international standard for OEM Non-Deployed Air Bags, the ARA Protocol.
  • Inspected by a trained and certified technician.
  • Delivered with a Certificate of Inspection.
  • Backed by a complete data record of each unit, including VIN of source vehicle, inspection and recall results, part and serial numbers.
  • Checked against the current government recall list for non-conforming air bags.
  • Shipped and transported in full compliance with DOT regulations.

The protocol includes precise guidelines for the removal and use of OEM non-deployed air bags from a salvaged vehicle. This includes: information on owner notification, air bag suitability - which states that no modifications be made to the non-deployed air bags, and applications - which requires only a direct interchange for installation. There are also sections on training, audits, documentation, recalls and storage.

To ensure the non-deployed air bags are safe, the guidelines offer detailed information on inspection protocols, which must be done on all units prior to the sale / installation. Only units that meet these requirements can be sold.

These include:

  • The OEM non-deployed air bag supplier must identify, record and report the donor vehicle information including vehicle year, make, model, VIN and air bag trim color if applicable.
  • Air bag module cover must be visually inspected and show no damage including nicks, scrapes, scratches or outer flaws which might lead to the refinishing of the module.
  • Air bag system components must be visually inspected and show no signs of water contamination - including mold, mildew or water residue. OEM Non-Deployed air bag use is not recommended if the donor vehicle sustained flood damage and/or any air bag system components exhibit signs of water contamination.
  • The air bag module must be inspected and be free of loose parts or foreign objects.
  • Visual inspection of mechanical fasteners for damage.
  • Attached wiring and electrical connectors must be visually inspected and show no corroded, damaged or abraded wires, terminals or connectors.
  • The shorting bar, if included, must be visually inspected.

You can find the complete ARA Protocol and guidelines for the use of OEM non-deployed air bags at www.airbagresources.com. You can also stay on top of recalls by signing up for NHTSA recall alerts, which go out before recall letters are mailed by the manufacturers to the affected owners. Go to www.safercar.gov for more information or to check a VIN against the recall list.

Be proactive. Let your customers know that these non-deployed air bags are a safe and quality alternative to new.

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