Feds raid house searching for counterfeit airbags, 1 arrested - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Feds raid house searching for counterfeit airbags, 1 arrested

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Dwight Smith Dwight Smith
PHOENIX (KSAZ) -

Sounds strange, but if you have to replace the air bag it can cost thousands of dollars. The cost is why some people look to buy them on the cheap online and on the street. Most of the time though those turn out to be fake.

One valley man, Dwight Smith, is accused of producing those counterfeit airbags.

Agents had been investigating him for three months, and they finally busted him Wednesday.

Authorities discovered 40 counterfeit airbags in the home -- airbags they say would not have worked properly had they been installed.

So how dangerous can counterfeit airbags be?

The government tested some counterfeit airbags.  In one test, the airbag did not even reach the test dummy's face.  In another video, the fake airbag spewed metal shrapnel and even fire.
 
Mike Stanley, owner of Stanley's Service Center in Phoenix, says the airbag is the most important safety feature on any car.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warns that counterfeit airbags have recently become more common.
 
"If there's any type of informality in the part that was put in the car as the act of the repair and it doesn't work right, then the driver or a passenger in that car is gonna suffer," said Stanley.
 
The NHTSA believes consumers whose vehicles had its airbag deployed and went to a non-dealership car dealership in the past three years are the most vulnerable.
 
Those drivers and anyone who purchased an airbag online are advised to contact a call center established by the vehicle manufacturer.

"Airbags are very expensive parts that can run anywhere from $600 to $1100 or $1200, so counterfeit parts are being sold on the market for I think anywhere from $100 to $200 cheaper. I don't think anybody that can think straight would want to take that chance and have the customer come back to them if the part didn't work correctly," said Stanley.

While counterfeit airbags are not common, just one could cost a life.

Stanley says that if you ever see an indicator light on your vehicle's dashboard in the shape of the airbag with a line through it, the vehicle is not safe and needs immediate attention from a mechanic, because that symbol means the airbag system is not working.

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