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Driver Finds Out Too Late Their Replacement Airbag Was Fake

As if the Takata airbag scandal wasn’t enough to raise concerns of motorists with hundreds of thousands of cars on recall for defective airbags, now motorists have to be on the lookout for fake airbags.

The CBS Local station in Dallas Fort Worth reported about a fatal crash that happened last year when a young mother lost her life when her vehicle ran into a tree. 34-Year-old Sarah Loughran was involved in a head-on collision on Beverly Drive in Highland Park.

Sarah’s father, Donald Loughran said that they had purchased the used Kia on a Monday and by Wednesday, she was dead. Dallas attorney, Todd Tracy said in an interview that the accident….” should have been survivable.”

When looking at the steering wheel, everything looks as if it should be normal, but during an investigation that took Tracy some 18-months, they noticed something missing when the steering wheel hub popped out. The front logo looked almost normal, but on the reverse side was a different story.

Where wiring and components should have been visible was covered with a black silicone putty. Inside, there was no igniter to fire an airbag or even an airbag – just a shop rag that had been stuffed in its place.

During its investigation, CBS local found that the vehicle had been in a previous accident where both the driver and front passenger airbags deployed. From there, it was sold a number of times, taken to a number of shops and expensive parts purchased from less-than-reputable suppliers that were available at lower cost. Tracy says Loughran’s death should be considered a homicide. Counterfeit auto replacement parts are lucrative and consumers should be made aware of the potential hazards of using them. Loughran’s case is ongoing with investigators determined to find out who is responsible for producing and installing the counterfeit airbag mechanism that killed Sarah.

When buying a used vehicle, motorists are encouraged to do their homework beforehand. Consumers are encouraged to:

  • Research the service records to find out whether a vehicle has ever been in an accident. Pay close attention whenever the airbags have been deployed and replaced.
  • Have the vehicle you wish to purchase checked out at a certified dealer for your make and model of vehicle. If the airbag has been replaced, ask the dealer to compare the reinstalled airbag to one that is a factory standard part.
  • Have the dealership run a diagnostic test to make sure airbags and all other safety equipment is in working order.
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