NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday reported on an alarming new type of auto fraud. Their investigation revealed that, when cars have been in crashes and the airbags have deployed, some auto repair shops aren’t installing new airbags. Instead, they’re either putting back the original airbag, cramming in other material, or leaving the space empty. The results can be deadly. Often, the repair facility will bill insurance companies for new airbags, but never install them.
Similarly, NPR reported on a case where an unsuspecting consumer purchased a used car, not knowing it had previously been in a crash, and discovering that the airbags were useless.
While the government doesn’t track airbag fraud, NPR notes that, “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a report that reviewed 1,446 fatal crashes and found that in 255 of those cases, the air bags had not been replaced after a previous accident.”
Scary stuff, indeed. This reinforces that, when you’re buying a used car, you have to obtain a vehicle history from a service like CARFAX to see if it’s been in a crash. If you’ve been in an accident, make sure you use a reputable repair shop. And, don’t assume that when the airbag light comes on, there’s a sensor malfunction. Get it checked to make sure that your vehicle’s airbags will deploy in the event of a crash.