Criminals go to great lengths to gain access into our vehicle and take whatever they can get their hands on. This includes hot commodity items, such as car stereos, wallets, cell phones, and airbags. Yes, that’s right…even airbags!
Each year, approximately 50,000 airbags are stolen in the U.S., costing vehicle owners and insurance companies over $50 million in annual losses, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The going market price for a new airbag is approximately $1,000 when purchased at the car dealership. However, on the black market you can pick up an airbag between $50 and $200, making airbags a “hot” item among stolen vehicle parts.
Due to the portability of airbags, they are quite easy to remove and install as “new” by less-than-reputable collision repair shops. These same shops will charge the insurance company or vehicle owner full price for the replacement. In many cases, the installed airbag is defective putting you or your passengers at serious risk in the event of an accident. Another scam unscrupulous repair shops pull is to replace only the airbag cover and not the airbag after an accident! Protect yourself from harm by following these important tips:
- Only use a reputable automobile repair facility to install a replacement airbag.
- Make sure all mechanics are ASE-certified.
- Verify the repair shop purchased the airbag directly from the manufacturer or dealer. This information should be listed on the invoice.
- Ask to inspect the airbag prior to installation. If it is new, it will come packaged in a sealed container.
- Check the trim cover over the steering column. If it is a different color from the rest of the interior, it more than likely means that the original airbag has been replaced.
- Be certain a red SRS (Supplemental Restraint System) indicator light flashes on the instrument panel when you first start the car. If you do not see an SRS light, then it means the airbag is not active or some other problem exists with the airbag system.