11 July 2024

Nearly 2 million vehicles are back on U.S. roads after they were involved in an accident where an airbag deployed over the last 2 years, CARFAX data shows. Each of those vehicles represents an opportunity for a scammer to install a counterfeit airbag as a replacement. Those counterfeit airbags put owners at risk, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Although instances of that happening are believed to be rare, law enforcement officials agree that no one knows for sure how many substandard airbags are in cars today. But the results can be tragic: There have been 3 deaths and 2 severe injuries just in the last nine months because of these airbags.

"If consumers own or are considering the purchase of a used vehicle, NHTSA urges them to learn their vehicle's history and ensure their vehicle has genuine air bag inflators," the agency said in a release this week. "If their vehicle has one of these inadequate replacement parts, it could kill or critically injure them in a crash."

Consumers can check – for free – Vehicle History Reports for airbag deployments in every used car listed on Additionally, prospective buyers should have a trusted mechanic check out any replacement airbags before they buy a used vehicle.

NHTSA and federal law enforcement officials say there's no way to know for sure just how many counterfeit airbags are being installed in U.S. cars today. A new car today can have up to 10-15 airbags installed. 

Consumers who wind up in an accident where an airbag deploys should take their vehicle to a reputable repair shop, preferably one with vehicle manufacturer certification and high ratings from consumers. 


CARFAX, part of S&P Global Mobility, helps millions of people every day confidently shop, buy, service and sell used cars with innovative solutions powered by CARFAX® vehicle history information. The expert in vehicle history since 1984, CARFAX provides CARFAX Used Car Listings, CARFAX Car Care, CARFAX History-Based Value and the flagship CARFAX Vehicle History Report to consumers and the automotive industry. CARFAX owns the world's largest vehicle history database and is nationally recognized as a top workplace by The Washington Post. Shop, Buy, Service, Sell – Show me the CARFAX®.

S&P Global Mobility is a division of S&P Global (NYSE: SPGI). S&P Global is the world's foremost provider of credit ratings, benchmarks, analytics and workflow solutions in the global capital, commodity and automotive markets.