Are missing air bags really a problem?
In 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a study examining fatal accidents in which a car's air bag should have deployed, but did not. It wasn't because the airbag was defective; instead the air bag was missing. In many cases, the airbag was never replaced after deploying in a previous auto accident.
Every year an average of 2.5 million vehicles are declared totaled by insurance companies. Although these cars are issued salvage titles, nearly 40 percent are rebuilt and resold. Many of these cars are missing airbags or have airbags that come from stolen or salvaged vehicles. They may not match the year/make/model of the repaired vehicle and this means that the airbag may not function properly if the vehicle is in another accident.
How does this happen?
When the vehicle is taken to the repair shop after an accident, the mechanics deploy or pull out the airbags to make it look like they deployed during the crash or they remove the undeployed airbags and replace them with airbags that have been deployed. The insurer inspects the vehicle and gives an estimate for airbag replacement. The airbags are replaced with inferior knockoffs. In some cases, they aren't replaced at all and the space is filled with garbage bags, cardboard or even beer cans. The undeployed airbags may be sold as they are high demand items.
Is this legal?
Unfortunately, this may not be illegal. Few states have laws regulating airbag system replacement.
How do I know that my air bags are safe?
Because the airbag compartment is sealed, it is impossible to determine the state of your airbags. There is no way to know that the airbags on a used car are ready to deploy, but these tips can help:
If you are buying or own a used car, check the Carfax record to find out if the vehicle has been in any previous accidents. You just need the Vehicle Information Number (VIN). A Carfax report can tell you if the vehicle has had any previous airbag deployments.
Be careful of salvaged vehicles, especially vehicles that have been in a flood. Water damage can prevent a perfectly fine airbag from deploying.
Does the airbag cover match the rest of the car? If it doesn't this could indicate tampering.
Does the airbag indicator work? When you turn on the car's ignition, an airbag indicator should light up for a moment and then go out. If it does not light up, remains on or flashes, there may be a problem with your airbag system. Take the vehicle to a trusted certified mechanic for inspection to ensure the airbag system is working properly.
Have You Been Injured In A Kansas City Area Car Accident?
If you've been injured in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.