Heed airbag warning before buying a used car

The government says less than 1 percent of vehicles have counterfeit airbags.

That's still about one in a thousand cars.

So if you're thinking about buying a used car, this is a warning to protect yourself before you find out the hard way yours are fake.

You are most at risk for missing or fake airbags if you bought a used car that was in a wreck.

A Carfax or Autocheck report should be able to give any accident information reported to insurance companies.

But if the accident wasn't reported it's nearly impossible to tell by just looking at your car, but there are signs that indicate your air bag has already deployed.

They include a damaged or replaced dashboard or steering airbag cover.

To know for sure that the airbags were deployed, you’ll need to have a certified mechanic check.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends contacting the manufacturer to find mechanics that specialize in your particular car. 

Finally, perform this test. Turn the ignition key to the position just before the car would start.

The airbag indicator light is the person sitting with a seatbelt in a circle. It should be lit. If not, there's a problem.

When you turn the car on, the light should be on momentarily, and then go off.

If not, there could also be an airbag system issue.

And if you are in an accident and your airbags deploy, make sure your mechanic shows you an invoice.

It's proof you're getting original airbag replacements.

Did you buy a car with fake airbags? Let me know.

If you need help or need to warn others about a consumer problem or scam, let me know at joe@abc15.com or by going to my  "Let Joe Know" Facebook page.

Here are some links to other information to help you determine whether or not your airbags are safe.

The Car Connection: What to do if you have phony airbags in your car

Carfax: Avoiding Airbag system fraud

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