Airbag warning issued after series of deaths
3 mins read

Airbag warning issued after series of deaths

Following a series of deaths and serious injuries over the past nine months, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Wednesday warned drivers about faulty replacement airbags in used cars.

The warning concerns “cheap, low-quality replacement air bag inflators” in used cars that could cause death or serious injury in the event of a crash, according to a statement from the NHTSA.

The message was sent after three people died and two suffered serious injuries due to “faulty aftermarket airbag inflation systems.”

According to the NHTSA, the vehicles in all five cases had been previously involved in a crash and the original airbags had been replaced. The agency said the improper replacements could lead to large metal fragments being embedded in the driver’s chest, neck, eyes and face during crashes.

Newsweek contacted NHTSA via email on Wednesday seeking comment.

Airbag warning issued after series of deaths
Drivers are stuck in traffic on southbound Interstate 5 during their afternoon commute toward downtown San Diego on June 28, 2024 in San Diego, California. After a series of deaths and serious injuries in…

Kevin Carter/Getty Images

The agency also warned drivers to be vigilant because “replacement parts are often manufactured by foreign companies with little or no reputation for manufacturing quality or experience, sold at prices well below the cost of high-quality original equipment.”

In its statement, NHTSA advises consumers to obtain a vehicle history report before purchasing a used vehicle, use reputable independent mechanics and auto dealers, ask about replacement parts when servicing a vehicle and use caution when purchasing auto parts online from overseas retailers.

“If consumers own or are considering purchasing a used vehicle, NHTSA urges them to review their vehicle’s history and ensure that the vehicle is equipped with original equipment air bags,” NHTSA said in a statement.

NHTSA further urges consumers who may have experienced a replacement air bag failure to consult with their dealer or a reputable mechanic to determine if the parts need to be replaced and to notify their local Homeland Security Investigations office or FBI field office to report the failure.

This is not the first time NHTSA has issued a public statement after airbags have been linked to death or injury.

In May, Nissan asked owners of nearly 84,000 vehicles made between 2002 and 2006 to refrain from driving them because of concerns about airbag explosions.

The warning affected 2002-2006 Nissan Sentra, 2002-2004 Nissan Pathfinder, and 2002-2003 Infiniti QX4 models. These models reportedly have Takata air bags that could explode upon deployment.

“Due to the age of vehicles equipped with the affected Takata airbag inflators, there is an increased risk that the inflator will explode during airbag deployment, throwing sharp metal fragments that could cause serious injury or death,” Nissan said on its recall website.

At the time, NHTSA confirmed that 27 people in the United States had died as a result of defective Takata airbag explosions. At least 400 people had been injured by exploding Takata airbag inflators.