A recent article in The Los Angeles Times highlighted a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that analyzed fatal traffic accidents in 2008 in which vehicle air bags failed to deploy. According to the study, the most common reason for the failure was the air bag missing from the vehicle, most likely because the air bags had not been replaced after a previous accident. On average, the study discovered that 51 incidents per year in the United States can be attributed to missing air bags but it is not known how many more vehicles are on the nation’s roadways that are missing air bags.
The article notes that many used vehicles have previously been involved in crashes, and then salvaged and resold to consumers, potentially without air bags. Obviously, significant danger exists since the consumer may never know their vehicle is missing this essential safety feature.
Air bags can be very difficult to check on, and are quite expensive to replace, costing between $1,000 and $3,000. According to the article, many auto repair shops have been found to charge a consumer for replacing an air bag but do not actually do the work. For example, in 2009, a couple was awarded $15 million after their son was killed in a truck whose air bags they had paid to be replaced after the vehicle was purchased as salvaged, with the steering column stuffed with paper. It is important for consumers to be aware that when they are purchasing a used vehicle, they should have an independent mechanic whom they trust inspect the vehicle to ensure air bags are present and the vehicle does not have a defect that affects its use, value, or safety which could pose risk to the consumer.
Recently, a bill was proposed in the Senate that would make air bag repair fraud punishable by a fine of $5,000, or up to a year in state prison, or both, in an attempt to reduce this kind of consumer protection violation.
Before purchasing a used vehicle, it may be a good idea to familiarize yourself with how you can avoid buying a lemon vehicle. Read the Consumer’s Guide to Buying a Used Car in California by Los Angeles lemon law attorney Howard D. Silver before you visit a used car dealership so you know how to get a good deal. If you have purchased a lemon vehicle from a used car dealer, Mr. Silver can help you understand the legal options available to you. Call 1-(855) 341-2611 today.