Does Your Car Use a Recycled Airbag?
Car experts are warning drivers to beware of recycled airbags in their vehicles. Each year, roughly 750,000 airbags are replaced following a car accident, according to Carfax. In some cases, these replacement bags may be recycled. Using recycled airbags keeps the cost down for auto makers, but there is also a higher chance that the replacement bag is a recalled product, which presents safety risks to the consumer.
Parker Waichman LLP has decades of experience successfully representing clients in product liability lawsuits over allegedly defective or dangerous products. The firm continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a recalled airbag lawsuit.
Christopher Basso, who works for Carfax, told Kansas City’s KSHB News, “It really underscores the importance of finding out if original manufacture equipment airbags were used or if they took a recycled airbag that may be on the recall list and could put your life in danger,”
“Recycled airbags being used on the recall list could affect anybody anywhere and really underscores the importance of knowing if your car was in a crash when the airbag was deployed and needed to be replaced and what was needed to replace it,”
Jeff Newberry, with Jay Wolfe Body & Service, says recycled airbags should not be used to replace one that has deployed.
“We absolutely will not use recycled airbags,” Newberry said to KSHB. “When you talk about recycled airbags or aftermarket parts for the passenger restraint systems, they’re just bad news all together. You probably want to go back to the manufacture’s parts, the manufacturer’s guidelines and a list of items that need to be replaced whenever you have deployment.”
Consumers shopping for a used car are advised to take the vehicle out for a thorough test drive, obtain a history on the vehicle, and have it inspected by a mechanic.
Airbag Defect, Recall Lawsuits
Some defective airbags have been subject to substantial litigation. In particular, Takata has come under intense scrutiny and government charges due to its exploding airbags, which affected 42 million vehicles in the United States and 19 automakers. The faulty airbags have been linked to at least 11 deaths and 180 injuries.
The exploding airbag recall is the largest recall in the history of the auto industry. The problem stemmed from the faulty propellants, which were unstable and degraded over time. Takata reportedly switched to these propellants to save on costs. The New York Times also reported that the company manipulated test data and failed to notify regulators of test results.
Takata reached a $1 billion settlement and pleaded guilty to felony charges involving the airbag recall. “Automotive suppliers who sell products that are supposed to protect consumers from injury or death must put safety ahead of profits,” said U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, according to a Department of Justice release. “If they choose instead to engage in fraud, we will hold accountable the individuals and business entities who are responsible.”
“For more than a decade, Takata repeatedly and systematically falsified critical test data related to the safety of its products, putting profits and production schedules ahead of safety,” said Andrew Weissmann of the Fraud Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, according to the release. “This announcement is the latest in the automotive industry enforcement actions the Fraud Section has taken to protect U.S. consumers against fraud.”
Takata will pay $975 million in restitution and a $25 million fine. The restitution fund will allocate $125 million for individuals injured due to exploding airbag accidents who have not already reached a settlement. The remainder is for automakers who installed the airbags unknowingly. The company pleaded guilty to felony charges of wire fraud.
Takata airbags continue to be recalled. The Associated Press recently reported that another 652,000 vehicles may contain the defective inflators.
Previously, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that Takata failed to warn of the faulty airbags in a timely manner, issuing a $70 million penalty. “Delay, misdirection and a refusal to acknowledge the truth allowed a serious problem to become a massive crisis,” said then-Transportation secretary Anthony Foxx during a news conference. “When we first brought this issue to light, there was a lot of denial on the part of Takata.”
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