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Deflated: Bad news about air-bag replacements

air bag on impactI'm lucky to have never been in an accident where the air bag deployed. And, given the news from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, I'm doubly lucky, because if I'd had the air bag replaced post-accident, I might have gotten a dud. My car, a Volvo S60, is on the list of vehicles that are at risk for getting counterfeit replacement air bags.

Here's what the NHTSA says: "While these air bags look nearly identical to certified, original equipment parts — including bearing the insignia and branding of major automakers — NHTSA testing showed consistent malfunctioning ranging from non-deployment of the air bag to the expulsion of metal shrapnel during deployment."

You're at risk if you fall into any of these categories:

* You've had an air bag replaced within the past three years at a repair shop that's not run by a new car
* You bought a used vehicle within the past three years that may have been in an accident before you purchased it. You can check a used vehicle's history by entering its Vehicle Identification Number, found on the dashboard, http://www.vehicleidentificationnumber.com/" target="_blank">here.
* You own a salvaged, rebuilt or reconstructed car.
* You bought a replacement air bag yourself sometime in the past three years - especially a cheap one (less than $400).

You can see the list of vehicles - 21 makes in all - that may be at risk here.

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