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You Can Easily Trace a Car’s History, but Not Necessarily Their Parts

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Hoboken, NJAmongst the steady stream of media reports decrying the emerging issue of recycled airbag injuries and their relationship to recalled airbags inexplicably returned to circulation, is a television report produced by News 12 New Jersey (06/07/17). While injuries attributed to defective, original-equipment airbags have been an issue for some time, the emergence of recycled airbags that may have been the subject of a recall poses a safety risk to occupants, and a corresponding risk of lawsuit litigation against would-be defendants.

“Without the recycled airbags being properly checked, they can be put into cars almost anywhere,” said Basso from Carfax.
The concern, in part, is founded upon the 69 million defective airbags that were subject to the widest global recall in automotive history. A less-expensive propellant utilized by airbag manufacturer Takata, of Japan was found to become unstable with age, and in areas of high humidity. When the airbag is deployed, it does so with such force that the metal airbag casing is blown apart, sending shards of metal into the passenger compartment, seriously injuring occupants. Many have not survived their injuries.

News 12 quoted Christopher J. Basso, of Carfax, about the issue. Scores of media outlets have sourced Basso for comments. Identified in his LinkedIn profile as the Public Relations Manager for Carfax since 2004, Basso is uniquely qualified to comment on airbag failure and the potential for airbag injuries.

“Without the recycled airbags being properly checked, they can be put into cars almost anywhere,” Basso said, in comments to News 12.

The news outlet noted that recycled parts salvaged from other cars for a repair, do not show up in a search based on a car’s unique VIN number. Thus, someone buying a used car that had seen a major repair may not be aware that a previously-recalled airbag may have been salvaged from another vehicle and installed in the car they are buying.

While every vehicle is in a database and a car’s accident, and repair history will be reflected in data that follows a vehicle throughout the course of its lifetime, the origins of used and salvaged parts are not. While a serial number of an airbag can be traced, a mechanic is required for that – and the consumer is out-of-pocket just to secure the information.

While it is unlawful for a salvage yard to knowingly sell a used part having been recalled, many proprietors simply advocate that they didn’t know. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA) is entrusted with educating salvage yards on the issue. However, there is no lasting enforcement. The rules are strictly voluntary.

News 12 advocates that would-be buyers of a used car avoid purchasing a vehicle that had been saddled with a salvage title. Additionally, if a vehicle’s history suggests that an airbag had deployed, then it tells the individual about to purchase the vehicle that the airbag(s) had been replaced. The replacement airbag can be checked by a qualified mechanic, in order to establish its origin and whether, or not the replacement airbag had been subject to an airbag recall of defective airbags. Such information could cost a consumer upwards of a couple of hundred dollars.

Takata, meanwhile is in the process of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Law 360 (10/23/17) reports that late in the day on October 22, Takata asked a federal judge in Delaware to extend its exclusive plan filing period by 90 days, “so the debtor can continue to oversee its highly complex plan that requires coordination of efforts in the United States, Japan and Canada,” Law360 said.

A young woman from Las Vegas, Karina Dorado, is lucky to be alive after she sustained serious injuries to her trachea and vocal cords from a relatively mild front-end collision. When the airbag in her used Honda deployed, shards of metal were sent flying into her throat. The car she was driving had been given a salvage title under a previous owner. The replacement airbag was a Takata airbag that had been the subject of an airbag recall, but never addressed. The airbag was removed intact from a different car, and sold as a recycled airbag as part of the repair for the car Dorado was driving.

Dorado and her family have filed an airbag failure lawsuit.

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