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China Transportation Technology

Counterfeit Air Bag Racket Blows Up 288

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-are-pigeons-coming-out-of-my-steering-wheel dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "According to Joan Lowy of the Associated Press, 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."
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Counterfeit Air Bag Racket Blows Up

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  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @02:35PM (#41610583)

    I was wondering why my new airbag looked so much like beach ball attached to a can of Fix-a-Flat.

  • Won't be the last (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ogive17 (691899) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @02:42PM (#41610697)
    I'm in the OE service part industry. We've been dealing with counterfeit parts from China for the past decade, one of the reasons why less companies are allowing any assembly to occur there. The Chinese subsidiary companies will even cheat their own US/Japan mother company....

    I saw video comparing the counterfeit to the OE airbags. If the counterfeit bag even deployed, it was very delayed and rarely had enough pressure to actually prevent serious injury.
    • Re:Won't be the last (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dupple (1016592) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @02:48PM (#41610809)

      It's not just car parts. It's happening in the aircraft industry and else where. There's also the issue of refurbished parts being sold as new...

      http://www.aero-news.net/index.cfm?do=main.textpost&id=67ee8eb6-54ae-403c-bcd5-3c76b6f95506 [aero-news.net]

      • Re:Won't be the last (Score:4, Interesting)

        by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot@wor f . n et> on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @03:55PM (#41611645)

        It's not just car parts. It's happening in the aircraft industry and else where. There's also the issue of refurbished parts being sold as new...

        Aviation is well known since the big busts in the 80s orcehstrated by fake FAA part tags and such. It was so bad it even got onto the presidential airplane (Air Force One, when he's on board).

        The FAA went around a busted a bunch of dealers of counterfeit parts because it was such a huge problem that practically every commercial jet had at least one counterfeit. Even worse, they were documented as real so no one really knew (the counterfeiters were the ones profiting - the airlines and everyone else didn't know they were buying counterfeit parts).

        When you consider a screw that costs 10 cents at Home Depot will probably cost $4-10 for aviation, the urge to counterfeit is very real. Even parts that are worn out or expired would get new coats of paint and resold as new.

        Of course, if there's anything to show for it, is to show really how capitalistic the Chinese are - if there's a way to make a buck (scamming or otherwise), they'll do it. We've seen it happen through the many recalls - lead in toys and paint, melamine in milk (watered down - but melamine added to boost protein so hide watering down), etc. If there's a way to cut a corner, they'll find it.

  • The counterfeits have some surprising benefits, for example, you can have a snack while you wait for police with the Jiffy Pop air bag.
  • China (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sparticus789 (2625955) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @02:46PM (#41610773) Journal

    China - The first economy based of stealing other people's ideas and manufacturing it for less.

    • Re:China (Score:5, Insightful)

      by w_dragon (1802458) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @02:59PM (#41610969)
      Since Japan, you mean? And Germany before that? It's a pretty well-established way of getting to an industrialized economy. The only question is if they will be able to make the leap from cheap imitation crap to cheap imitation quality.
    • by Jeng (926980)

      Those who do not learn history have no fucking clue what is going on.

    • Or, often times, not really manufacturing it at all? I would hardly call an airbag that fails to deploy a valid copy.

    • True. But it's our own having local Americans reselling this shit to other Americans as well. China may be the source of all this crap, but their certainly not the last link in the chain of deceit and lies. There's plenty of blame to go around.

    • The United States - The first economy based on hording "ideas" and forcing other countries to pay fees to use those ideas under threat of sanctions or military force. Patents are a very new invention. I wonder if we patented it?
  • When I first read title, I was thinking that I bet they don't get too many retuns of defective products... :)

    But I guess they aren't actually fake, they are just not the Brand they say they are, and don't work as well.

    • When I read the summary, I was thinking "far below the PRICE you stupid monkeys! 'Value' is not 'Price'!" Airbags are such worthless shit. (The statistics on airbag "lives saved" works like this: if you have a collision and the airbag deploys and the collision theoretically could be fatal and you didn't die, airbag saved your life. On top of that, seatbelts are often crippled--slow locks, no centripital lock, etc--so while a no-airbag standard from the 90s might save you, an airbag failure to deploy in
    • by Spectre (1685)

      When I first read title, I was thinking that I bet they don't get too many retuns of defective products... :)

      But I guess they aren't actually fake, they are just not the Brand they say they are, and don't work as well.

      counterfeit bags had "consistent malfunctioning," ranging from not deploying on impact to throwing metal shards.

      "don't work as well." != "not deploying ... throwing metal shards."

      The last thing a person needs while in the process of a vehicular collision is to have their steering wheel explode like a fragmentation grenade.

      While "don't work as well" is true, it so much of an understatement as to be NOT TRUE.

  • I'd be surprised if this hasn't been happening for some time. Everything else has been KIRFed, look at the variety of cheap crappy aftermarket car parts on eBay.
  • by jest3r (458429) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @02:52PM (#41610877)

    Since the inspection and replacement is not covered by insurance or the auto shop I can only imagine that these counterfeit airbags will be on teh road for a long time.

    Considering many / most people would go through insurance to get a new airbag installed as it's typically one part of a bigger job (ie. your front bumper assembly and other parts probably needed replacing at the same time) it's strange that Insurance would not cover the inspection.

    You just paid a deductible just to get the work done and now you are being told that you need to pay to get it re-inspected and then you need to pay if the airbag is indeed a fake.

    The burden shouldn't be on the consumer unless they knowingly purchased it and installed it themselves.

    • by sunking2 (521698)
      The problem is it's a relatively small percentage of bags that have been replaced. In most cases the inspection will come up negative so the insurance company and certainly the shop won't cover the cost of inspection. In cases where one is found I'm assuming you can go after the shop who installed.
  • by SternisheFan (2529412) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @03:04PM (#41611049)
    You even need to be careful of the legit air bags.... http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-57444565-71/airbag-saves-man-then-kills-him/ [cnet.com]
    • by sjames (1099)

      Gotta love the claim that inhaling a lungfull of fine silicate glass dust should be 'harmless'

      If he was wearing his seat belt, it is unlikely that the airbag played any part in saving him.

      • Gotta love the claim that inhaling a lungfull of fine silicate glass dust should be 'harmless'

        If he was wearing his seat belt, it is unlikely that the airbag played any part in saving him.

        Doesn't the driver need to be belted in, in order for the airbag to activate? I think there's some sort of fail-safe interlock system that won't let the bag fire up unless the driver/passenger can be assumed to be belted in and therefore correctly positioned. I think this got implemented after injury lawsuits started happening.

  • Extradition? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bob9113 (14996) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @03:11PM (#41611149) Homepage

    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. ... Dai Zhensong, a Chinese citizen, had the counterfeit air bags manufactured

    Given how hard we've been trying to extradite Kim Dotcom for facilitating copyright infringement, I assume we will be getting at least as heavy handed with China over this guy's tens of thousands of cases of attempted fraudulent homicide (or whatever it is called).

    • Of course not. We're talking about people's lives, not money. Now maybe if Ford made an IP complaint about the airbag design, then maybe...

  • While I feel sorry for those that had counterfeit airbags put in place by a body shop shooting for cheap-ass parts (or insurance companies forcing cheap-ass parts on their policyholders) anybody buying an airbag for $80 on eBay is a complete blithering idiot.

    Airbags are the one and only part of my car where I would only purchase new, from the dealer, every time. No junkyard or aftermarket airbags would EVER go on my car.

    I'm a big fan of pick-and-pull junkyards, and I've bought plenty of aftermarket parts,

  • by Vellmont (569020) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @04:47PM (#41612339)

    About a year and half ago I looked into buying a salvage car that was in a minor accident and repairing it myself. Cars these days have at least 6 air bags + seat belt tensioners, and having 3-4 of them blow is very common in an accident. Replacing the air bags is a MAJOR expense, so I looked into ebay and other sources of air bags. There are/were several sites that sold these bags at greatly reduced prices, in high numbers for all car makers. This didn't make a hell of a lot of sense, as they were even cheaper than junkyards. After a bit of digging I found that counterfeit bags were a problem, and the ebay bags were most likely counterfeit.

    I can't of course prove that these bags were counterfeit, but nothing else really made any sense. I actually abandoned my salvage car project after it didn't really make any financial and risk management sense. Real bags from the automaker are very expensive, and then you have to worry about screwing it all up if you DIY. In the end I didn't want to hold myself responsible for a passenger in my car being seriously injured because I wanted to save $1000.

  • Please cut those job-killing regulations of big government. Business can police themselves. If your face is crushed by a defective airbag, people will avoid buying those and the genuine article will rise in the marketplace. That's how capitalism works, build a better mousetrap and all that.

    I'm sure Ryan will make some argument like that tomorrow night, After all, he worships Ayn Rand. If you moochers don't appreciate the entrepreneurial effort of job creator and industrialist Sheng Zhuiangh in China, then m

  • This scheme blew up in people's faces. Or it blew up in peoples faces by not blowing up In peoples faces.
  • My cars don't have airbags :-P

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves. -- Lazarus Long

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