US Highway Agency Issues Advisory Over Faulty Air Bag Replacements in Some Cars

‘These suspect replacement parts are often manufactured by foreign companies with little to no reputation of quality manufacturing,’ it warns.
US Highway Agency Issues Advisory Over Faulty Air Bag Replacements in Some Cars
Cars make their way in traffic on a Los Angeles freeway on Jan. 25, 2024. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

A federal agency overseeing transportation safety warned drivers Wednesday about “cheap, substandard replacement air bag inflators” in used cars after reports of multiple deaths and injuries in connection to the problem over the past several months.

In a statement, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that two people suffered severe injuries and three died in the past year due to “faulty aftermarket replacement” air bag inflators.

The agency said that the vehicles involved in the five cases were previously involved in a crash, while the original manufacturer equipment air bags were replaced with the defective ones. In the majority of the cases, according to the NTHSA, the products were “confirmed to have been manufactured overseas,” although the agency did not name the countries where they are produced.

The Epoch Times contacted the NHTSA Wednesday to provide more details on the foreign companies and products referenced in the advisory.

“These suspect replacement parts are often manufactured by foreign companies with little to no reputation of quality manufacturing or experience, sold at prices far below the cost of quality genuine equipment, ordered online and shipped to the United States, and installed by those other than reputable repair shops or manufacturer dealerships,” the NHTSA said.

Meanwhile, the parts “malfunctioned in subsequent crashes, sending large metal fragments into drivers’ chests, necks, eyes and faces, killing or severely injuring drivers in otherwise survivable crashes,” the advisory said.

Other cheap inflators may deploy too slowly, or partially, meaning occupants of a vehicle may strike the dashboard or steering wheel in a collision. Anyone in the hunt for a used vehicle should secure a vehicle history report, or do so now if they did not before buying, the NHTSA said Wednesday.

If it is determined by a car dealership or a qualified mechanic that a vehicle has a faulty air bag inflator, the NHTSA advises replacing them and notifying a local Homeland Security Investigations office, or FBI field office.

BMW Recall Notice

The notice comes as the NHTSA announced Wednesday that German car manufacturer BMW is recalling more than 390,000 vehicles in the United States due to defective air bag inflators that may explode when they deploy. The recall targets some BMW 3 Series Sedans and Sportwagon models made between 2006 and 2012.

Those cars may have a Takata PSDI-5 air bag inflator that was installed by owners after purchasing the vehicle, even though it wasn’t officially considered as a replacement part by BMW, according to the announcement. The NHTSA warning on “cheap” and “substandard” inflators did not mention Takata.

BMW has not received any reports of any accidents or injuries in the United States that may be related to this issue, according to the latest recall notice.

Air bag inflators made by Japanese automotive parts maker Takata have been at the center of a decade-long recall that has impacted millions of vehicles sold in the United States. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2017 due to the recalls.

Meanwhile, at least 26 deaths and hundreds of injuries have been attributed to the faulty inflators inside the United States, officials say. An investigation in 2014 targeted a Takata plant in Mexico that manufactured allegedly defective air bags.

In 2015, Shigehisa Takada, the chief executive of Takata, publicly apologized for the air bag issues, coming about a month after the firm acknowledged that its air bags could cause their inflators to explode when they deploy, causing potentially life-threatening injuries.

“I apologize from my heart to those who have died or been injured,” he said at the time. “I feel a heavy responsibility.”

A Carfax report released in May found that some 6.4 million vehicles still contain the Takata air bags, while about 40 percent of those vehicles are located in high-risk states because of their high heat or humidity.  They include Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas, the report said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X: