Entries in Crash Tests (4)


Airbag Knockoffs Fail in Crash Test Videos

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Causing a fire, not deploying or partial deployment are not how you would like to have your airbag described, but those are the words U.S. Department of Transportation administrators used Wednesday when explaining the dangers behind a stream of counterfeit airbags.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and ICE officials Wednesday warned consumers about counterfeit airbags made at overseas manufacturers and installed in cars throughout the U.S. The counterfeits have been found in more than 75 different makes and models, both domestic and internationally made cars, and could affect thousands of individuals.


Investigators cautioned that even though this affects less than 0.1 percent of vehicles, the danger to those vehicles is extreme, including airbags not deploying, partially deploying or catching fire. So far they are unaware of any death or injury from the counterfeit airbags.

Earlier this year ICE arrested and convicted a Chinese counterfeiter who was found with nine different brands of airbags. And just this year have confiscated more than 2,500 fake bags.

ICE Director John Morton explained that the counterfeits were manufactured overseas, fraudulently labeled and then illegally imported into the country.

"These seemingly genuine airbags are in fact shoddy fakes that pose a significant safety hazard when it's installed," he said. "These airbags don't work. They aren't going to save you in an accident, they are a fraud and danger from start to finish, and you don't want them in your car."

Consumers are at risk if:

  • They have had the airbag replaced in the last three years at a repair shop not associated with a new car dealership.
  • Purchased a used car that had its airbag replaced.
  • Own a car branded salvage, rebuilt or reconstructed.
  • Got a "too good to be true" deal for airbag replacement.
  • Purchased their airbag from eBay, Craigslist or other non-certified outlet.

Because these faulty bags are not the fault of car manufacturers or dealers, this is not a mandatory recall and consumers would pay out of pocket to replace the airbag.

"They look like the real thing and unfortunately consumers are not in a position to figure out if they have a fake or a real airbag and they certainly wouldn't be in a position to be able to replace their own airbag," David Strickland, a NHTSA administrator, said.

Officials urge anyone who has suspicions about their airbags to take their car to an expert for testing and replacement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


WATCH: Inside General Motors' Top Secret Extreme Vehicle Tests

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- General Motors is putting its vehicles through a series of extreme tests in a bid to make sure the cars -- and the company -- last.

The grueling tests come after bankruptcy and a government bailout left American taxpayers with ownership of a quarter of the company.  GM's stock price has slumped so the government has been forced to hold its shares rather than sell them at a loss.  The extreme testing is an attempt to strengthen the company's vehicles -- and its share price.

The newly restructured GM granted ABC's Nightline unprecedented access to its super secretive testing facility, called the Proving Grounds, in Milford, Mich., where it allowed cameras to film new models being crashed, flooded and pushed to the limit in severe environments.  Many of these tests had never been seen before by the public.

GM was once one of the biggest players in the industry, rolling out iconic Cadillacs, Chevrolets, Buicks and more.  But the company became bloated and during the recession, it fell into bankruptcy and needed a government bailout.

"This company is under tremendous pressure to deliver great products and great profitability -- and quickly -- and the pedal is to the metal, so to speak," said James Bell, head of consumer affairs for GM.

Bell was Nightline's tour guide for a wild ride through a series of breathtaking tests.  In one test, GM dumps a "lifetime of rain" on a vehicle -- nearly 7,000 gallons in eight minutes -- which tests how well the engine, electronics and other components stay dry.

In another, engineers drove a truck into a "dunk tank," then deliberately flooded it to see whether the truck's undercarriage would withstand dangerous corrosion.  For yet another, they drove a vehicle at an impressive clip straight into a flooded road to see what would happen if a driver ignored safety warnings and did just that.

"Sometimes floods happen in this country, so we know that these vehicles are going to withstand that," Bell said.  "We're doing above and beyond what the government requires."

For the first time ever, GM allowed cameras to film inside its climatic wind tunnel, capable of creating Arctic cold one day and desert heat the next all to see how vehicles do in extreme conditions.  In another first, General Motors allowed Nightline's correspondent to drive onto a test track to see if a Chevy truck could manage massive pot holes and ditches so deep, their size is a trade secret.

The now leaner, meaner, post-bailout GM believes its tests are working, so much so that this summer the company staked everything on an unprecendented money-back campaign.

"If you're not happy with your new Chevy, return it," the company's commercials boasted.

But despite its vigorous testing, General Motors just last month recalled over 40,000 vehicles over potential fuel leak concerns, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report.  

And Consumer Reports ranked GM 12 out of 13 car companies for reliability in its most recent list, noting that models designed by the "old GM" are dragging the automaker's score down.

Chris Perry, GM's vice president of U.S. marketing, said the company's process is improving.

"We believe in the products we're developing," he said.  "[And] we're saying 'hey, you know what, we recognize the ills of our past, but do yourself a favor and compare us again.'"

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf Earn Highest Safety Ratings in Crash Test

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- As gas prices continue to soar, more drivers are turning their attention towards electric vehicles.  But just how safe are they?

In the first-ever U.S. crash test of electric cars, both the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf performed well, gaining the top rating for front, side, rear and rollover crash protection.  The highest safety ratings garnered both vehicles the title of Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

"What powers the wheels is different, but the level of safety for the Volt and Leaf is as high as any of our other top crash test performers," said Joe Nolan, the Institute's chief administrative officer.

Nolan advised, however, that both vehicles' performance in the crash tests doesn't mean all electric vehicles are safe.

"The Volt and the Leaf shouldn't be confused with golf cart-like electric vehicles that don't have to meet any of the federal standards for crash worthiness," he said.

The Volt and Leaf offer some extra protection because they're heavy -- much of their weight comes from their batteries.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Insurance Institute Names Safest Cars for 2011

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- Sixty-six vehicles made the cut as the safest models for 2011, according to the latest list released Wednesday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The Insurance Institute gave 40 cars, 25 SUVs and a minivan the "Top Safety Pick" award for scoring the highest in tests that measure how well drivers are protected in front, side, rollover and rear crashes.  The vehicles awarded also had to score well on a roof strength test -- a new requirement the Institute enforced last year.

The leading automakers were Hyundai/Kia and Volkswagen/Audi, which each had nine models listed as winners.  General Motors, Ford/Lincoln, and Toyota/Lexus/Scion followed with eight awards apiece.  Subaru, which earned five awards, was the only manufacturer to have a winning model in every class in which it competes.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio