Toyota Oz Countering Spread of Counterfeit Airbags

Toyota vehicles never involved in an accident are not affected by the bogus parts. But Toyotas repaired after an airbag deployment in a crash reportedly may have been fitted with fakes not tested to manufacturer standards.

Alan Harman, Correspondent

August 7, 2015

2 Min Read
Replacement airbag in Yaris may pose risk
Replacement airbag in Yaris may pose risk.

Toyota Australia is trying to locate thousands of motorists who unknowingly have bought counterfeit airbags for their vehicles.

News Corp. Australia reports the Toyota subsidiary has found at least two distributors of counterfeit airbag parts. One of them sells the same part with and without Toyota packaging, simply marketing the cheaper option as “non-genuine,” when both parts are fake and have not been tested to manufacturer standards.

The issue is unrelated to the recent recalls involving Takata airbags.

The airbag connector, the link between the car’s power source and the airbag in the steering wheel, must be replaced when an airbag is deployed. The genuine Toyota part costs about A$300 ($222.60) wholesale and the fake as little as A$50 ($37.10).

Toyota vehicles that never have been involved in an accident are not at risk of being affected by the bogus parts. But the newspaper group says Toyotas repaired after an airbag deployment in a crash may have been fitted with the counterfeit parts either knowingly or unwittingly by repairers.

Toyota Australia refuses to comment, but News Corp. says an urgent dealer bulletin it obtained shows Toyota has “serious concerns about the safety of these parts” after internal testing in Japan found there are four ways they can fail to deploy an airbag in a crash.

“The bogus parts – sold in what appears to be genuine Toyota packaging – fit most of the 2 million Toyotas sold in Australia over the past 10 years, but the company has no idea how many have been installed in cars locally,” the report says.

The fake airbag parts are being sold by importers to independent repairers and possibly Toyota dealers who likely are unaware the parts are bogus.

The dealer bulletin cited by News Corp. says there is a “high likelihood of insufficient conductivity to support airbag deployment electrical current” and “significant risk of airbag non-deployment in an accident.”

The bulletin tells dealers to check the airbag connector when cars come in for routine servicing, to ensure it is not a counterfeit.

Industry experts reportedly fear the fake parts might not be exclusive to Toyota, and other brands may be affected. But Toyota is a prime target as it has been Australia’s biggest-selling car company for 12 consecutive years.

One dealer, speaking on condition of anonymity, tells News Corp. there is no way of knowing how many of the fake parts are out there. “But we suspect there are thousands, because they are quite a commonly used part,” the dealer says.

About the Author(s)

Alan Harman

Correspondent, WardsAuto

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