Carfax Tool May Help Detect Counterfeit Airbags

Carfax Tool May Help Detect Counterfeit Airbags

By Jennifer Kraus. CREATED Jul 11, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A NewsChannel 5 investigation recently got a lot of people wondering about their car's airbags -- specifically, whether their car's airbags are counterfeit or not.

Federal testing shows counterfeit airbags may not protect you in a crash or they could wind up seriously injuring you and even possibly killing you.

But NewsChannel 5 Investigates found a free and simple tool that could help you figure out whether you should be concerned.

If you bought your car new and it's never been in a wreck, you have nothing to worry about.

But, if you bought your car used and it was in an accident before you bought it, it's possible that the repair shop put in counterfeit airbags.

When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tested counterfeit airbags, one of them essentially exploded on impact while others barely deployed, meaning they wouldn't provide much, if any protection in a crash.

And safety experts fear tens of thousands of these have made their way into the U.S. from China and have been put into vehicles after they've been in accidents to replace the original airbags.

Carfax now offers a free online airbag check that will tell you if your car's airbags have ever been deployed. Just go to www.carfax.com/airbag and type in your car's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

If Carfax has any report of airbag deployment in your car, it will tell you. You can also run a check like this if you're thinking about buying a used car to give you an idea if the vehicle has been in a wreck or not.

Full Carfax reports also include the airbag deployment information and run about $40. 

If you think your car might have one, NHTSA recommends that you have your car inspected. All of the automakers have numbers you can call to find out where to take your car to have it done. To see the list of automakers' numbers for questions about counterfeit airbags, click here.

Keep in mind, you will have to pay for the inspection. If you do have a counterfeit airbag, you'll have to pay to replace it. But, when you consider what's at stake, it's worth the price.

For more information on counterfeit airbags, click here.

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Jennifer Kraus

Jennifer Kraus

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Jennifer Kraus is NewsChannel 5's Weekend Morning Anchor and a member of NewsChannel 5's award-winning Investigative Team.