If you are in the market for a used car, one vital component to ensure is functional is also impossible to inspect with the naked eye—the airbag system. More often than you would believe, people who prep used cars for resale will use all sorts of creative methods to avoid the extra expense of properly replacing a deployed airbag. There have been reports of airbags simply being jammed back into the steering wheel (rendering it useless), and airbag compartments being stuffed with everything from packing peanuts to beer cans. Dozens of deaths occur on our roadways each year because of airbag fraud.
So what are the best ways to avoid an injury to yourself or a passenger from such danger on the road? Here are some red flags to watch out for when shopping for a used vehicle:
- The seller is reluctant to or even refuses to provide a vehicle history report from a reputable source like CARFAX.
- The seller cannot produce inspection documents verifying (if the vehicle has been in an accident) that the airbag has been properly installed and the airbag module has been correctly reset.
- When examining the dashboard you see scratches, gouges, or strange gaps between panels. This could be an indication the airbag has been deployed.
- Component colors that do not match, either on the steering wheel or dashboard panels, or even the seat belts. Any mismatched colors in these areas indicate the vehicle has been in an accident.
We strongly advise all our customers to have a third-party ASE-certified mechanic inspect any used vehicle before purchase. If you are suspicious about an airbag system on a used vehicle, never tamper with the airbag compartment yourself. New Concept Auto Service can quickly test the SRS components for any trouble codes and make recommendations for repair if needed on most vehicles.