It will come as no surprise to you that a car’s health is pretty important for our own collective well-being. It goes fast and then needs to stop. Basically, a bit like life. Part of ensuring that your car (and consequently you) remain healthy is making sure that the replacement safety parts that you have on your car are the real deal.

In America recently, there has been a worrying trend in the fitment of fake airbags on legitimate cars. Not something you might ever find out until it’s too late of course.

It was reported as long ago as 2011 that counterfeit automotive car parts were beginning to overwhelm China as the nation began to flourish. It was estimated that an astonishing $45 billion worth of fake car parts were sold that year.

crash test dummy airbag

It’s long been known that China is responsible for a rather large percentage of the global counterfeiting problem (some figures say up to 83 per cent of fakes emanate from The People’s Republic), but a fake Louis Vuitton bag is one thing, fake airbags or brake discs are an altogether more serious problem.

In October last year The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) put out a consumer safety advisory calling on automotive mechanics and car owners to be more vigilant and only use “certified, equipment replacement parts”. The advisory was specifically relating to counterfeit airbags.

Their own testing had revealed that these airbags may look genuine, but on deployment can fail to open, open too late or even throw metal shrapnel into the face of the occupant. They suggested that, to keep things in perspective, the problem was only affecting about 1 per cent of US vehicles. In the main, those vehicles that had, within the past three years, had an airbag replacement from a garage that was not a main dealer.

You might at this stage be wondering how this affects us over here, well a couple of days ago I watched a report warning drivers to be aware and vigilant of such items being sold in the UK, it’s not always just the weather that America gets first that eventually finds its way across the Atlantic.

Honda are one of the big name manufacturers that have been victim to having their OEM airbags replicated, and Dave Hodgetts, Managing Director of Honda in the UK, has expressed his concern that the fakes that have caused a storm in the USA might have already found their way onto UK shores via the internet.

Honda have released a 28 second warning video that anyone thinking of scrimping on such an important aspect of their car safety should watch. Using a melon in place of a head, 28 seconds becomes a perfectly long enough time to get the point across about the damage a fake airbag opening just 7/100ths of a second too late can cause.

Airbags are simply bristling with complicated, state-of-the-art technology, so it comes as no surprise that the non-genuine items fall somewhat short of the mark. Although cheap prices on the internet might be tempting in these austere times, Mr Hodgetts’ sensible advice is to visit your local main dealer when you need to replace such crucial, and technologically sensitive, safety parts. This way you can ensure that genuine parts will be fitted.

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