WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Air bags represent a symbol of safety that’s required in all modern cars, but a recent alert issued by the government warns drivers to pump those brakes before hitting the wall.

Drivers are supposed to feel comfortable in the safety of a brand new car, but not if their air bags don’t deploy as they should. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, owners should beware of counterfeit air bags sold as replacement parts for vehicles involved in a crash.

After a recent battery of tests, the NHTSA concluded that many replacement airbags that look the part – including the insignia and branding of major automakers – don’t necessarily act so.

Detailed tests have shown consistent malfunctioning of modern replacement air bags, which range from non-deployment of the bag to metal shrapnel projecting out from the bag during deployment.

Anytime equipment that is critical to protecting drivers and passengers fails to operate properly, it is a serious safety concern,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We want consumers to be immediately aware of this problem and to review our safety information to see if their vehicle could be in need of inspection.”

While no deaths or injuries connected to faulty bags have been reported, NHTSA has identified specific makes and models that may be equipped with them.

Although many faulty bags are circulating the roads, officials say there is no need for mass hysteria yet. The issue affects less than 0.1 percent of the vehicle fleet in the U.S.

Drivers who should not be concerned with this recent cause for alarm includes consumers who have purchased a vehicle new and have not yet had their air bags replaced, and consumers who have a full report of the entire history of their used vehicles – including crash reports.

But the alert was issued for a reason. Some makes the defective air bags have been noticed in include Acura, Audi, BMW, Buick and Chevrolet.

There are many more. To find out if you should take a second look at your car’s air bags, review the full list here.


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