Automotive Recyclers Association Joins NHTSA in Warning Vehicle Owners About Counterfeit Air Bags

ARA Urges the Agency to Clearly Differentiate Between Counterfeit Airbags and Non-Deployed Recycled OEM Air Bags.Manassas, VA — The Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) today announced its support of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) efforts to warn consumers about those who would promote the sale and use of counterfeit air bags. ARA has long cautioned the automotive repair industry community and consumers about the dangers of using counterfeit air bags, as well as the alarming practice of omitting airbags altogether in repairs. In fact, in 2009, NHTSA reviewed fatal accidents in a 5 year period and found that airbags were missing in 18 percent of the crashed vehicles following deployment in a previous crash.ARA strongly urges NHTSA to be clear in its statement that the continued use of recycled original equipment (OE) non-deployed air bag modules is acceptable and recycled OE non-deployed air bags are not counterfeit bags, from China or anywhere else but are the same parts that automakers install in vehicles on the assembly line. Also NHTSA should ensure that its advisory does not mislead consumers by giving the impression that only vehicles serviced at a new car dealership are assured of quality repairs which would be unfair to the tens of thousands of independent repair shops nationwide who do excellent work.

As the leading international trade association of professional automotive recyclers, ARA strongly supports the use of OE non-deployed airbags which have met specific industry standards and ARA maintains that recycled airbag components are an effective, economically-smart repair alternative to restore vehicles to their pre-accident condition. “The use of these components is a cost-effective option for a consumer,” said Michael E. Wilson, CEO ARA, “but, more importantly, extensive research and years of experience have shown them as a legitimate alternative as well.”

As a proactive measure to ensure safety standards are met, ARA Product Services LLC (“ARA Product Services”) launched ARAProTM in 2006. In conjunction with ARAProTM, ARA Product Service’s Airbag Protocol was developed as a national standard to ensure best practices are applied to the process of extracting, handling, inspecting, and storing recycled airbags from salvaged vehicles ( Using the Vehicle Identification Number as well as other reference sources, ARAProTM enables the repairer to accurately match the make, model, and year of the replacement component to the vehicle under repair. A byproduct of following the Protocol would be to ensure that the airbag is not counterfeit.

ARAProTM Airbags, ARA Product Services brand name that applies to recycled airbags which have been handled by technicians trained in accordance with the Airbag Protocol, have a certificate that can ultimately be used by a state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to verify that an AirbagProtocol compliant airbag has been used in the repair. ARAProTM Airbags are an integral part of the solution to stop the use of counterfeit aftermarket airbags.

Other entities share the view that the use of recycled OE non-deployed airbags is acceptable. The Model Act Regarding Auto Airbag Fraud, adopted overwhelmingly by National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) in November of 2009, sets forth a comprehensive approach to fighting airbag fraud – an approach that accepts today’s installation of both salvaged (recycled) and new original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. The state of Rhode Island has already passed this legislation and a number of other states are considering enacting this model law.

The ARA cautions NHTSA against inadvertent implications that new parts from OE’s and dealerships are the sole source for certified quality parts and repair. In any NHTSA communication on automotive parts, it is crucial that the agency clearly recognize the vibrant recycled parts market that provides consumers with cost effective quality recycled OEM repair parts.

Finally, legislators and regulators must become more aware that over-broad statements which could have a negative effect on the use of recycled parts (including airbags) only assist in the efforts to erect barriers to consumer access to cost effective, environmentally friendly quality recycled OE parts.

For almost 70 years, ARA has represented an industry dedicated to the efficient removal and reuse of “green” automotive parts, and the proper recycling of inoperable motor vehicles. ARA members provide consumers with quality, environmentally friendly, low-cost alternatives for vehicle replacement parts. Today, ARA represents the interests of over 4,500 auto recycling facilities in the United States and fourteen other countries around the world.