AAIA raises concerns to NHTSA on counterfeit airbags

The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) expressed “serious concerns” in a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about the agency’s recent consumer safety advisory for counterfeit airbags. The AAIA letter, dated Oct. 24, 2012, states that the Oct. 10 NHTSA safety alert “unfairly cast the full automotive aftermarket as culprits in the illegal sales of faulty airbags bearing counterfeit OEM logos.”

The letter states that the vast majority of collision repair shops purchase their airbags from trusted sources that they have worked with for years. It goes on to say, “However, motorists were led to believe by NHTSA that they might be most at risk if they had their vehicle repaired at a non-dealer repair facility.”

AAIA’s letter pointed out that the alert covered a very small percentage of replaced airbags, and provided little clarity to car owners as to whether they were at risk, regardless of if they went to a dealership or an independent shop. “This left many open questions for motorists, which resulted in a lot of questions for independent shops, nearly all of which had done the right thing in installing quality air bags,” according to the AAIA letter.

AAIA is requesting that NHTSA address several questions including:

  • Why the agency believes that the inoperative airbags can only be remedied at dealerships;
  • Why NHTSA failed to work with the industry to coordinate an effective response to the issue; and
  • Why it took so long from when NHTSA learned of the problem to communicate it with the industry and the public.

The letter further states that, “AAIA believes very strongly that both the industry and government play an important role toward ensuring that the motoring public has access to legal and safe vehicle components and systems for their vehicles. However, this most recent alert demonstrates a real lack of understanding of the vehicle aftermarket on NHTSA’s part and AAIA strongly asserts that a better line of communication between us is critical for the independent repair industry, but more importantly for consumers who depend on our industry for repair and maintenance of their vehicle.”