• Nonfunctioning, outdated or inappropriate air bags for the make, model and year of the vehicle.
• No air bag at all-a replacement air bag system cover has been used to cosmetically repair the air bag compartment.
• Everything from packing peanuts to paper towels, old shoes to aluminum cans stuffed into the steering wheel and dashboard air bag compartments to fill the space that should be taken up by the air bag.
• Air bags-taken from salvaged or junked cars-that have not been thoroughly tested to ensure function and safety.
"Replacement air bag systems may range from $1,000 to $3,000, maybe more if the dashboard shell or other dash components are damaged by the force of a passenger-side deployment," says Larry Gamache of Carfax. "Dishonest mechanics can generate a lot of money taking advantage of the unsuspecting consumer."
Carfax Vehicle History Reports can indicate salvage (junk) titled vehicles and vehicles that have been involved in major accidents and, in some states, note air bag deployment. Car buyers should ask sellers for a vehicle history report and see if the car has ever been branded "salvage."
To check a vehicle, turn on the ignition. The air bag indicator light should appear momentarily and then go out. If the light flashes or never comes on, take it to a certified air bag mechanic for inspection prior to purchase to ensure a properly working air bag system.
To learn more about air bag fraud or to obtain a vehicle history report, visit www.carfax.com.