Online sale of used airbags ‘puts driver lives at risk’
THE number of second-hand airbags sold online is rising significantly, according to new figures on the trade.
And the trend could put drivers’ lives in danger.
Car e-retailer carsite.co.uk calculates that around 3,000 second-hand airbags were sold in 2009. That has risen to slightly more than 7,000 eBay auction listings so far this year.
It says that while used airbags cost far less than new ones, the risk of a defective one failing to deploy correctly is “many times greater”.
Experts say that in the majority of online sales, the reasons for the airbag being removed from the original vehicle are not stated – and that amateur installation of the safety aids can be “dangerous”.
Drivers are also being warned that accident-repaired cars fitted with potentially non-operational airbags are being sold on to buyers.
In most cases the buyer would be totally unaware of the problem – until the airbag fails to go off in an accident.
More used Vauxhall/Opel airbags are available than for any other vehicle makes, accounting for around 10pc of auction listings. Along with those from a Ford, VW, BMW and Renault, the five manufacturers make up around 50pc of the market on eBay.
Airbags for prestige vehicles are available too. The website found one vendor offering a Ferrari F355 steering wheel airbag from a 'low-mileage donor vehicle' for £400 (€482) – significantly less than the £1,620 (€1,950) plus VAT quoted by an authorised Ferrari service centre, with an additional £150 (€180) in labour costs. While not all used airbags will be defective and some may work in the event of a collision, there is little doubt it is a game of chance.
And even if the airbag is working properly, if it is not fitted correctly then it may be rendered useless, or dangerous.
A spokesman for the e-retailer said: “This is a high-risk marketplace that needs regulating.
Why is it illegal to trade used airbags in countries like Germany?”