Sunday, September 21, 2014 · 10:14 p.m.

Auto leaders warn consumers about recycled airbags

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Edmunds.com leaders warned consumers about potential dangers of using recycled airbags. (Photo: MGNOnline)

Leaders with automobile industry online magazine Edmunds.com brought attention to risks associated with recycled airbags. 

“This is one of those classic examples of ‘better safe than sorry,’" Carroll Lachnit, Edmunds.com consumer advice editor, said in a prepared statement. “So while a recycled airbag could be installed as an affordable last resort, we encourage everyone to exhaust all replacement options through a new car dealership that works directly with the original manufacturers.”

Instead of using a recycled airbag from a junk car, consumers should only consider replacements made by the car's manufacturer, Edmunds leaders said. 

It's legal and less expensive to use non-deployed airbags from identical vehicles, but it could be dangerous. 

Although the Automotive Recyclers Association offers evidence that recycled airbags perform to mandated requirements, and leaders with the organization have created a 12-step certification process to help ensure safety when using recycled airbags, critics said that recycled airbags are more likely to have been exposed to moisture or extreme temperatures, which can make them defective. 

Edmunds editors also warned that there is an increasing number of counterfeit airbags being imported from China. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently issued a consumer advisory that warned vehicle owners and auto repair professionals about the dangers of counterfeit airbags. 

An airbag could be counterfeit if it was replaced within the past three years at a repair shop that isn't part of a new car dealership; the replacement airbag was purchased from eBay or another source that hasn't been automaker-certified; the cost of the replacement airbag was unusually low compared to the normal price of a new one, which is about $500; the color of the counterfeit airbag is slightly different from the other parts; or the letters "SRS" on the vinyl trim are not well-defined. 

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