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Dealers not required to replace deployed air bags, NHTSA says

November 16, 2010

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that when an inoperative air bag is discovered, it either should be restored by the vehicle seller, or a written disclosure should be given to the vehicle purchaser.


Dealers should ask customers if the air bags of their trade-ins have ever been deployed and if, to the customers’ knowledge, the bags are functional. The written disclosure should be shared with a vehicle’s next purchaser.


When repairing inoperative air bags, the original manufacturer’s repair and replacement instructions should be followed precisely.


Deactivated air bags, retrofits


Dealers are not restricted from selling used vehicles with deactivated or retrofit air bags. But dealers shouldn’t be the ones who deactivated them.


Retrofit switches can turn the air bag function on and off; deactivated air bags are turned off indefinitely. In both instances, a customer should be given written notification before the sale. 


When delivering a switch-equipped vehicle, a signed statement should be obtained that acknowledges the switch is in the on or off position.