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Recycled OEM Airbags

The Issue: ARA objects strongly to the continued disparagement of the "recycled" airbag market by automobile manufacturers and airbag manufacturers. ARA is unaware of any incident ever where a properly "recycled" original equipment manufacturer (OEM) airbag module has failed to deploy. Additionally, we are unaware of any factual data that exists to support the argument contending "recycled" airbags are unsafe, and we believe there is none.

The Impact: ARA believes the availability of lower-cost undeployed, properly recycled OEM airbags as replacement parts greatly reduces the principal or perhaps only incentive for consumers to use dummy covers or remanufactured/rebuilt airbag modules (which ARA condems), namely the high cost of new OEM replacement airbags. Requiring a vehicle to be repaired only with an expensive, new OEM air bag results in higher repair costs, more vehicles being totaled, and in effect fewer vehicles being repaired. As a result, consumers are faced with higher premiums for motor vehicle insurance coverage.

ARA Position: ARA stands by the use of undeployed, properly recycled and installed OEM airbag modules as viable, economical and safe alternatives to the use of new, costly OEM airbags. Properly recycled OEM airbag modules are vital competitive alternative s for consumers who might not otherwise be able to afford airbag repairs to their vehicle. Independent studies conducted by ARA, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) and Airbag Testing Technology (ATT) have consistently shown that the performance of undeployed, recycled OEM airbags is the same as new OEM supplied airbag modules for use in professional repair. ATT showed, based on studying forces and energy related to airbag deployment and occupant performance, that new OEM airbags and recycled airbags are statistically indistinguishable.

Additional Information:

ARA Product Services, LLC - Airbag Protocol 

GAO report on aftermarket parts and "recycled" air bag modules  (.pdf file)

ARA Response Letter to BusinessWeek article, August 6, 2001

Letter, by Phil Sheppard , to the Calgary Sun newspaper


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