Concern is growing that some car owners may be sitting in front of a time bomb.
The call for car owners who may have had improperly rebuilt airbags from a Quebec company installed has gone out at least twice, with very little effect.
The original steps were taken last year in Quebec after the Societe de l’assurance automobile du Quebec (SAAQ), the province’s automobile insurance board, successfully obtained an injunction ordering a firm that specialized in rebuilding and selling rebuilt air bags to cease production. The firm – National Air Bags Inc. ( National Sacs Gonflables) and Coussins Gonflable Demers Inc., were accused of assembling airbags with gunpowder, and other explosive substances as an igniter that “literally exploded” according to the board’s petition. Tests have shown that they could put drivers at risk due to flying sparks and shrapnel.
An estimated 7,000 airbags were sold by the company in Quebec, with some 1,600 airbags sold by them in Ontario. To date, only a few hundred individual in Quebec have reported to repair facilities to have their airbags replaced.
Now Quebec has once again put the call out due to the small number of individuals who have come forward.
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation followed Quebec’s lead just last month, warning motorists who own vehicles that have been involved in collisions, and have had airbags replaced or purchased vehicles that have been collision damaged, that there is a possibility that the air bags in their vehicle may be dangerous when activated. That call followed a move to contact the companies who had purchased the airbags in Ontario, in hopes they would be able to help track down car owners.
Auto repair firms and parts suppliers have also been repeatedly asked by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to contact clients in Ontario who may have purchased these unsafe, rebuilt air bags, and report their results to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.
The defective rebuilt airbags have been distributed by National since early 1998. Only those vehicles in which the air bag has been replaced by a rebuilt National air bag are at risk. The defective products would have been installed in vehicles to replace an air bag that was deployed during the last four years.
Vehicle owners who suspect they may have a defective rebuilt air bag are urged to contact their auto repair shop immediately. Vehicle owners should not attempt to inspect an air bag themselves. If a defective air bag cannot be replaced immediately, it should be temporarily deactivated, and a replacement air bag installed as soon as possible. This should be left to a qualified repair shop. Auto repair shops in Ontario have been asked to provide the ministry with Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) of affected vehicles.
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