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Faulty airbags could put Michigan drivers, passengers at risk

As new cars roll out each year, some of the biggest upgrades tend to have to do with safety. Because, unfortunately, there is no way to avoid car accidents completely, automakers have remained focuses on enhancing safety features in order to minimize the injuries that occur when people are in motor vehicle collisions.

However, a lot of the cars people buy are used, and this means that they probably do not have all of the original safety equipment. Parts that are often replaced after a car accident include the airbags. U.S. safety regulators are now warning consumers who have recently replaced airbags that they may be faulty.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, vehicles that have had airbags replaced within the past three years, by an auto repair shop that is not connected to a dealership, may have dangerous airbags.

Although the NHTSA has not reported that any deaths or injuries are linked to these faulty airbags, the airbags in question may either not inflate during an accident or shoot out metal shrapnel during deployment.

The agency is asking that anyone who has had airbags replaced at such auto repair shops to call their automaker to have their vehicle inspected. The counterfeit airbags are branded with the insignia of major automakers and they look just like certified parts, so it is important to have the actual automaker perform the inspection.

When people are injured or killed because of faulty or defective car parts, it can be possible to hold the manufacturer accountable and obtain compensation for victims or their surviving family members. In this case, the NHTSA is reportedly working with various agencies in an attempt to identify where these counterfeit airbags are coming from. Until the supply chain is brought to light, it may be difficult to hold the manufacturers and/or parts dealers accountable in criminal or civil court.

Source: Reuters, "Safety regulators warn about counterfeit air bags," Ben Klayman, Oct. 10, 2012

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