Oh, China. That was too predictable.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has alerted the auto repair industry that tens of thousands of car owners may be driving vehicles with counterfeit air bags, which fail to inflate properly or don't inflate at all. Although no deaths or injuries have been tied to the counterfeit bags, it's unclear whether police accident investigators would be able to identify a counterfeit bag from a genuine one. The counterfeit bags typically have been made to look like air bags from automakers, and usually include a manufacturer's logo, but government investigators believe many of the bags come from China. Auto dealerships that operate their own body shops are usually required by their franchise agreements to buy their parts, including air bags, directly from automakers and therefore are unlikely to have installed counterfeit bags. But only 37 percent of auto dealers have their own body shops, so many consumers whose vehicles have been damaged are referred by their insurance companies to auto body shops that aren't affiliated with an automaker.Safety officials will warn millions of Americans that the air bags in over 100 vehicle models could be dangerous counterfeits, telling them to have their cars and trucks inspected as soon as possible. Dai Zhensong, a Chinese citizen, had the counterfeit air bags manufactured by purchasing genuine auto air bags that were torn down and used to produce molds to manufacture the counterfeit bags. Trademark emblems were purchased through dealerships located in China and affixed to the counterfeit air bags, which were then advertised on the Guangzhou Auto Parts website and sold for approximately $50 to $70 each, far below the value of an authentic air bag. The NHTSA has made a list of automobiles available that may be at risk for having counterfeit air bags."
From the NHTSA press release.
CONSUMERS THAT SHOULD NOT BE AT RISK:
Consumers who purchased their vehicle new and have not had their air bags replaced
Consumers who have full knowledge of the entire history of their used vehicle (including knowing whether the vehicle had been in a crash in the last three years and being certain that the air bag was replaced at a new car dealership)
CONSUMERS THAT MAY BE AT RISK AND SHOULD CONTACT THE CALL CENTER ESTABLISHED BY THEIR AUTO MANUFACTURER:
Consumers who have had air bags replaced within the past three years at a repair shop that is not part of a new car dealership
Consumers who have purchased a used car that may have sustained an air bag deployment before their purchase
Consumers who own a car with a title branded salvage, rebuilt, or reconstructed
Consumers who have purchased replacement air bags from eBay or other non-certified sources-especially if they were purchased at unusually low prices (i.e. less than $400)
VEHICLES FOR WHICH COUNTERFEIT AIR BAGS MAY BE AVAILABLE:
As of today, NHTSA is aware of counterfeit air bags available for the following vehicle makes and models:
A3, A4, A6, A8, Q5, Q7
X5, E70, E60, E61
5-series, 528i, 535i
5-Series, 525i, 530, 535, E60, E61
525i, 530, 535
Range Rover Evoque
IS250, IS350, IS-F
V70, S60, S80
Yeah- they are basically telling everybody with a vehicle on the list that had an airbags replaced - NOT at a dealer- to take their vehicle to the dealer and get it verified.
I am sure dealers will hate this.... (sarcasm...)
What would stop them from claiming all of them are counterfeit?
Airbags are just the tip of the iceberg. Brakes pads, rotors and many other service parts are being counterfeited and passed off as name brand products that may enter the supply chain at various points. It's just one more industry for the largest organized crime syndicate in the world, China, to exploit. Supply chain integrity is a huge issue that all the OEMs and reputable parts suppliers have been grappling with now for the past decade or so.
You make it sound like the government of China is intentionally making parts like this just to screw with everybody.
But cheap Chinese labor is not free- so somebody is paying a Chinese company to make these parts.. and I seriously doubt it is a Chinese business.
More than likely some outside business went to a Chinese factory and paid them to make parts that look good as cheap as possibly but without any concern for functionality. They are getting exactly what they paid for, and are the Chinese to blame?