Airbag Fraud. Stats, Signs & Ways to Avoid
Airbag Fraud is a hidden fatal hazard few buyers think of when buying a used car. It may turn out one of the most costly hidden problems in a used car. Airbag fraud may cost you or your family the most precious thing in the world - life. We entrust our lives and the lives of our family to airbags. Victims of the airbag fraud report finding virtually anything in the airbag compartment, but not a functional airbag: paper towels, beer cans or stuffed back deployed airbags. Needless to describe possible consequences...
How Airbag Fraud Works
Airbags are expensive, that's the basis of all scams coming from some unfair used car dealers and small repair shops that repair and sell salvage cars.
- Insurance scam. Unfair body shops replace the used airbag with all possible sorts of stuff, then charge the insurance company for the replacement and pocket from about $2,000 to $4,000 at a time. A dummy with and airbag cover is installed and electronic indicators are tuned to display that the airbag is in order.
- Refund scam. The body shop orders a new airbag and bill the customer, but never installs it. The airbag is sent back and refunded.
- Non-disclosure. Vehicle owners are not obliged to have working airbags. Some simply prefer not to reinstall them after and accident with deployment. And then sell without disclosure about missing airbags, although in many states this disclosure is requited by the law.
- Use of malfunctioning recall airbags stored at junk yards exposed to humidity and heat. Takata issued recall for 67 million airbags in the US because they explode at deployment if exposed to moisture and heat and injure or kill.
The unaware customer drives away without the airbag. Why nobody knows about that? Airbag replacement is a very precise and delicate procedure. Once the airbag compartment is sealed it must not be accessed afterwards.
How to avoid Airbag Fraud?
Do VIN number check to get the get vehicle history report prior to buying a used car and even asking a technician to inspect it. The vehicle history report may reveal so many dirty secrets in a car that it isn't even worth inspecting and the time spent... Your and your family's safety is a good reason to determine if the car has been previously involved in an accident or not. The accident record in a used cars's history is a warning sign, and "airbag deployment" record is an alarm.
If the report reveals an accident in the car's history, always have it inspected by a trusted expert prior to purchasing it to make sure that the air bag is in proper condition, even if it wasn't deployed previously.
Check the airbag indicator. When you switch on the ignition, light should appear instantly and then go out. Remaining on flashing light indicates that an airbag system malfunction. If the light never turns on, the airbag may be missing.
Airbag Fraud Stats
According to the report of NHTSA on fatal crashes (Jan, 2008), in 255 of 1,446 accidents airbags had not been replaced after a previous crash. And in about a half of all fatal crashes with non-deployed airbags involve airbags that were faulty or simply missing. That gave officials a good reason to believe that many accidents involved the airbag fraud. Experts warn that about 4% of accident cars later have nonfunctional airbags. Would you knowingly drive a used car without airbags? It is very unlikely...