Recycled Air Bags Not Part Of Warning

Last month the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a consumer safety advisory about counterfeit air bags. The department became aware of bags that either did not deploy or expulsed metal shrapnel during deployment. 

NHTSA said the bags looked identical to certified, original equipment parts (OEM), including bearing the insignia and branding of major automakers. The counterfeit air bags were manufactured in China and were installed in vehicles over the last three years at non-new car dealership service providers, according to NHTSA.

“Anytime equipment that is critical to protecting drivers and passengers fails to operate properly, it is a serious safety concern,” said Ray LaHood, transportation secretary. “We want consumers to be immediately aware of this problem and to review our safety information to see if their vehicle could be in need of inspection.”

The Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) supports NHTSA’s efforts to warn consumers about the counterfeit air bags, but wants NHTSA to be clear in its statement that the continued use of recycled original equipment (OE) non-deployed air bag modules is acceptable and recycled OE non-deployed air bags are not counterfeit bags, from China or anywhere else but are the same parts that automakers install in vehicles on the assembly line.

Also ARA wants NHTSA to ensure that its advisory does not mislead consumers by giving the impression that only vehicles serviced at a new car dealership are assured of quality repairs which would be unfair to the tens of thousands of independent repair shops nationwide who do excellent work.

As the leading international trade association of professional automotive recyclers, ARA strongly supports the use of OE non-deployed air bags which have met specific industry standards and ARA maintains that recycled air bag components are an effective, economically-smart repair alternative to restore vehicles to their pre-accident condition.

“The use of these components is a cost-effective option for a consumer,” said Michael E. Wilson, CEO ARA, “but, more importantly, extensive research and years of experience have shown them as a legitimate alternative as well.”

ARA has also taken measures to make sure safety standards are met for recycled OE air bags. ARA Product Services LLC launched ARAPro in 2006. In conjunction with ARAPro, ARA Product Service’s Airbag 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 ( Using the Vehicle Identification Number as well as other reference sources, ARAPro enables the repairer to accurately match the make, model and year of the replacement component to the vehicle under repair. A byproduct of following the protocol would be to ensure that the air bag is not counterfeit.

ARAPro Airbags have a certificate that can ultimately be used by a state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to verify that an Airbag Protocol compliant air bag has been used in the repair. ARAPro air bags are an integral part of the solution to stop the use of counterfeit aftermarket air bags.

The ARA cautions NHTSA against inadvertent implications that new parts from OE’s and dealerships are the sole source for certified quality parts and repair. In any NHTSA communication on automotive parts, it is crucial that the agency clearly recognize the vibrant recycled parts market that provides consumers with cost effective quality recycled OEM repair parts.

A full list of makes and models affected by these counterfeit air bags can be found at

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