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Automotive Occupant Restraints Council Warns Against Using Salvaged, Remanufactured Air Bags, Belts.

Business/Automotive Editors


The Automotive Occupant Restraints Council (AORC) today warned against the use of salvaged or remanufactured air bags and seat belts because they have the potential to expose motorists to unnecessary safety risks.

George Kirchoff, AORC president said, "Our policy is clear. I cannot think of circumstances in which AORC would support replacing seat belts or deployed air bags with anything other than correct original equipment replacement parts.

"This is purely a safety issue. All restraint systems, including air bags, are designed and maufactured to very distinct requirements that are vehicle specific. That is, they depend on the characteristics of a particular vehicle make, model and model year."

"Replacement components must have identical performance to the original in order to ensure acceptable crash protection for occupants," Kirchoff added.

Last year Kathy Myers' teenage daughter wrecked her car. Myers was thankful that both air bags deployed correctly and her daughter and passenger were not seriously injured. Myers, an Ohio trauma nurse, had her damaged car repaired but was not pleased and took the car to another shop. There the mechanic became concerned about the recently installed driver-side air bag. Upon inspection he found the bag's serial numbers had been removed which could indicate the bag had been stolen or at least previously installed in another car.

According to Myers, the repairing shop charged $2,500 for replacment air bags that were claimed to be new.

"I was shocked to learn that my car was repaired with salvaged or perhaps stolen air bags. I am a great believer in the benefits of seat belts and air bags. Had I not taken my car to a second repair shop for inspection, my family would have driven the car as if it had the proper air bags. I immediately notified my insurance company," said Myers.

Myers insurance company subsequently totaled out her car rather than layout more money to rectify the air bag situation.

Citing problems with using savaged air bags, Kirchoff says there is significant potential of using modules with different performance levels that can fit various vehicles. He also points out that salvaged or remanufactured air bags may have been exposed to conditions--for example excessive heat, shock loads or flood waters--that go beyond their design capability. These conditions, according to the AORC, can result in unacceptable air bag performance.

There is no test to verify that such exposure has not occured and that the air bags will perform acceptably," said Kirchoff.

Remanufactured bags might include a mixture of components from various manufacturers or may have undergone improper repairs, according to the AORC.

Kirchoff says safety belts, like air bags, are vehicle specific. "Deviation from original installation geometry can result in delayed or nonlocking retractors. There is potential to reduce the strength of anchor points. Any mixing of belt components increases the likelihood of reduced safety performance.

"As a result of a traffic crash, safety belts could receive damage that would not be obvious or otherwise go undetected. Webbing, buckles and major load bearing components could be stressed beyond the manufacturer's safe limits, reducing overall system strength and reliability," said Kirchoff.

"AORC member companies do not support the use of unqualified components for the manufacture or repair of air bags or safety belts. The risk to vehicle occupants would be too great," said Kirchoff.

AORC offered several tips to consumers having air bags and seat belts replaced:

-- Always insist on original equipment replacement air bags

and seat belts

-- Demand to see the repairing shop's receipt for the

original equipment replacement air bags and seat belts

-- Support your state's efforts to enact laws to prohibit the

use of salvaged or remanufactured air bags and seat belts

AORC is a nonprofit organization representing domestic and international manufacturers and suppliers of automotive air bags, seat belts and vehicle seating systems.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Jun 29, 2000
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