Bryan Cohen Mar. 4, 2013, 6:18pm

PHOENIX (Legal Newsline) - Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne issued a consumer warning Friday about potentially dangerous and unreliable after-market airbags that are being sold to businesses and individuals in Arizona.

Consumers may be at risk if they had their airbags replaced within the past three years at a repair shop that is not part of a new car dealership. Other consumers at risk include Arizonans who bought a used car that sustained an air bag deployment prior to the purchase, who own a car with a title branded rebuilt, salvage or reconstructed and who purchased replacement airbags from eBay or other non-certified sources, particularly if the airbags were bought for less than $400.

"Phony airbags are a real problem because they often fail to work and pose a threat to human lives," Horne said. "It is important that consumers buy the appropriate equipment and be on the lookout for counterfeits."

Several states recently prosecuted individuals who purchased and resold replacement airbags imported from China. Tests of the airbags show that they are dangerous and may not inflate during an accident. In some cases, the airbags actually exploded upon impact.

In one instance, a North Carolina man pleaded guilty to selling counterfeit airbags after shipping the airbags to 8,100 customers across the country. Most of the airbags were sold using eBay to independent repair shops that could have used them in consumers' vehicles as replacement airbags. Some of the customers at risk are located in Arizona.

Customers whose vehicles were in a crash and had their airbags replaced by a repair shop that is not part of a new car dealership in the past three years or who bought their airbags online should contact their auto manufacturer's call center to have the vehicle inspected and their airbags replaced if needed.

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