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NHTSA agrees it should consult with aftermarket groups prior to releasing advisories on safety-related issues that impact independent repairers.
The AAIA Government Affairs team recently met with several National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) officials to discuss the counterfeit airbag safety advisory that was issued by NHTSA on Oct. 10. The advisory warns drivers that unsafe airbags had been labeled and sold as legitimate original equipment manufacturer (OEM) airbags, but in fact may cause serious safety hazards by being inoperable or worse.
AAIA said it agrees that inoperable, counterfeit airbags can pose a safety threat and should be removed from the marketplace. However, AAIA believes the advisory issued by NHTSA unfairly cast the independent repair industry in a negative light, leading consumers to believe that non-dealer facilities were more likely to act inappropriately than a new car dealer in the replacement of an airbag. AAIA told NHTSA in an Oct. 24 letter that the advisory ignored the fact that the vast majority of independent shops provide proper repairs using high quality replacement components.
The AAIA Government Affairs team met with seven individuals from various departments in NHTSA who are handling the ongoing safety issue and are involved in the investigations into the counterfeit airbag retailers. All parties agreed that in the future, the agency should consult with aftermarket groups prior to future releases on safety-related issues that might impact the independent repair industry.