When a vehicle has a salvaged title or has been in an accident, the airbag may have already been deployed. Even if it remained undeployed, the airbag system may still have been damaged by the crash.
Air bags are very expensive to replace. It will cost thousands of dollars to install a working replacement, so some dealers and body shops are cutting corners and putting consumers in danger.
There have been many reports of dealers selling used cars without a working airbag.In some cases, consumers reported buying a used car with rags stuffed inside the airbag compartment.
To help consumers avoid this problem we have listed a few tips that will help spot phony airbags when buying a used car.
Check The Instrument Cluster
The airbag light will be on and will be flashing along with the other indicators. It will say Airbag or SRS. If the airbag light turns on and shuts off after a few seconds that means all is good as to factory OEM specifications. If you don’t see the airbag light after turning the key and there are other lights like battery, seatbelt and the others, that means there is something wrong with it.
Examine The Air Bag Compartment
Look for little tears. Make sure that the edges and the surrounding surface are well tucked. Take all the time you need to inspect the area visually. Check if there’s anything odd about the airbag cover, make sure that it is an exact fit. If it fits poorly that means it will not react in the exact time frame that the manufacturer originally intended. It may cause serious injuries or death when the airbag does not inflate on time to prevent you from hitting the interior of the vehicle in an accident.
The Seat Belt Should Retract Normally
The seat belts should retract smoothly.If they’re slow or don’t retract at all, that’s a warning that the air bags have been deployed already and were not replaced.
Seat belts have pretensioners as a part of their mechanism. These are wired to the same central control processor that activates the car’s air bags. The processor monitors mechanical or electronic motion sensors that respond to sudden impact. When an impact is detected, the processor activates the pretensioner and the air bag. The pretensioner pulls in on the belt tightening up any slack in the belt webbing in the event of a crash. This force helps move the passenger into the safest crash position in his seat.
So, if the seatbelt does not work properly that means the central control processor for both the pretensioner and airbag was not fixed or replaced after the accident.
Check Consumer Feedback
Check the Better Business Bureau and the internet for reports of consumer complaints. Check the dealership’s reputation. A scam this lucrative won’t have occurred just once. Do your homework and check the company’s complaint history with your local consumer protection agency. Read their feedback and avoid dealerships with a history of air bag fraud. Buy only from trusted dealerships.
Have A Certified Mechanic Inspect The Car
Take the car to a certified mechanic whom you know and trust. This is the best way to find out if the airbag is safe. Installing air bags properly, requires recalibrating the system. They will have to fix the sensors, control modules and new seat belts. There’s no way to know whether this has been done correctly just by looking at the car. However a certified mechanic knows how to check and has the right tools to test if it is working or not.
Airbags can help you survive a collision. It will save your life and protect you from injuries. It is important that you are sure that this safety feature will work when needed. Utilize the tips that you have learned here to detect phony airbags. It will help you avoid the risk of being a victim of airbag fraud.
Selling used cars with a phony air bag is illegal and punishable by law. If you know of a dealership who’s involved in this or if you have already bought a car with a phony air bag, report it to the authorities. Do not let it go and help save lives.