6
This content is rated TV-MA, and is for viewers 18 years or older. Are you of age?
Sorry, you are not old enough to view this content.

CNET On Cars: Smarter Driver: Is your airbag your enemy?

About Video Transcript

CNET On Cars: Smarter Driver: Is your airbag your enemy?

3:11 /

Airbags save lives, but CNET's Brian Cooley shows you how counterfeit airbags can be hazardous to your health.

Airbags blow when triggered by one of several G force sensors or accelerometers mounted around your car, and when they do deploy it's loud and violent. It's something you want working absolutely perfectly so it'll walk that fine line between saving your life and making things work. A counterfeit airbag could even fool the experts. It'll have the right materials typically, it might have the right logo stamped on or even the right serial number, but that's where the similarity to a real one ends and can end dangerously. Our partners over at State Farm tipped us off to an investigation those recently by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and they are detecting bogus airbags in the marketplace. The basic idea is to offer one at lower cost, but that's not a good tradeoff you wanna make. The problem, well they may not deploy in a crash or not forcefully enough or they may deploy too hard and they can even send metal shrapnel flying around inside the car. Now most insurance companies and any reputable body shop is not gonna hesitate to pay for and put the genuine item back on there. I mean this is a critical part. It's not like you're replacing a piece of sheet metal. Now even if counterfeit airbags were easy to spot, this one's legit but I don't know. I wouldn't know if I haven't been told. How would you spot one of these? The same trained mechanic doesn't play around with these things and for good reason, this is the business end. This is where there is that high explosive propellant that inflates this thing in that fraction of a second during a collision. You don't wanna be fooling around with this and crossing wires the wrong way, so you'll leave this kind of thing to body shops and reputable repair shops. However, here are some tips you can use to make sure that the history of your vehicle or its future repairs involve real genuine airbags. For the most part, vehicles that have had an airbag replaced in the past 3 years by a repair shop that is not part of a new car dealership could be at risk. Now if you think your car may have passed through a sketchy repair shop after a past collision or has an airbag installed that was bought online, you're not helpless. Go to safercar.gov, that government website will hook you up with call centers that will let you work with the car maker to determine if you've got legitimate airbag in your car. They can often figure that out by doing a data read of some of the codes that come off the data bus in your car. This also says if you bought a car with a salvaged or similar title or if you bought an airbag on eBay and it was really cheap like under 400 bucks, those are also red flags. Now I'll grant you this may sound like a lot of Safety Bee worry warning over a part you never see and hopefully will never use, but airbags are unique in all the components of a car with a unique sort of dangerous edge to them. You don't want one that's working mostly right.

New releases

Kyocera enters the European market with the rugged Torque
1:07 March 5, 2015
The durable and waterproof Kyocera Torque (s701) sports a 4.5-inch display and sets sail for Europe on the B2B market.
Play video
Gionee Elife S7 is a super-thin smartphone
1:01 March 5, 2015
This smartphone is a mere 5.5mm thick, and has a 'chameleon' app that themes your mobile around colours picked out by the camera.
Play video
Navigate your smartwatch with your eyes
1:07 March 5, 2015
Though only a prototype for now, the eye-tracking tech inside this watch could one day come to your wrist.
Play video
Fuel-cell phone charger makes its own electricity
1:23 March 5, 2015
The MyFC Jaq uses one-use plastic cards to create electricity from hydrogen. Could this be how gadgets are powered in the future?
Play video
These smart shoes track your kid's location
1:09 March 5, 2015
We check out a pair of high-tech shoes that monitor your child's location, and charge wirelessly.
Play video
Kairos mechanical watch has a 'floating' display
1:09 March 5, 2015
Wild! This classic-looking watch contains some smart secrets.
Play video
The best new smartphones in 74 seconds
1:17 March 5, 2015
Looking for a new mobile? We round up the coolest new phones that have been announced at Mobile World Congress 2015. Find out which...
Play video
The future of mobile, according to Kyocera
1:41 March 5, 2015
At MWC 2015, Kyocera exhibited some of its concept and prototype devices, including a handset with a built-in solar film.
Play video