Car buyers warned of new airbag scam

Motorists are being warned that crash data clearing services are on the rise, with some online operators offering the service for just £30.

Crash data clearing scams help falsify if a car’s airbags have been deployed.

Rather than owners having to pay hundreds of pounds on airbag module repairs, the services bring the locked airbag modules ‘back to life’.

HPI data experts explained that even when airbags and seatbelt pretensioners are replaced following an accident, the airbag light will still flash.

This is because the airbag module locks up, so it can’t be redeployed.

The online operators allow owners to send them the locked module, which they return, so the vehicle owner can plug in this effective airbag reset.

HPI says such services are a grey area. They are not technically illegal – but it is illegal to sell a car without disclosing any known accident or recorded damage.

It’s also illegal to falsify instrumentation data and withhold this from an unsuspecting buyer – which resetting the airbag module light effectively does.

"Once again when it comes to car scams, we have a situation where the law is very unclear," says HPI identification director Jon Clay.

"There can be legitimate reasons for resetting crash data on a vehicle if it displays the need to be reset once the airbags have been replaced. However, if crash data is reset, this makes it very difficult to pinpoint exactly why the airbags were deployed in the first instance."

Clay explains that withholding this information from a potential buyer is illegal and not only could it prove very costly financially, it could present a danger to driver and passenger safety. Not disclosing if a vehicle has been previously written off after repairing it is an attempt to cover up a potentially lethal situation.

It means that reputable car dealers could potentially be liable for selling a car with false accident data after being unwittingly duped.

"At the moment, there is seemingly no way to prosecute the company or person who originally reset or wiped the car’s crash data in the first place. Something needs to be done to tighten up on this from a legal perspective, so that unsuspecting motorists aren’t risking their lives and the lives of others when getting behind the wheel," he adds.

Ask HJ

Does having an airbag light on invalidate my insurance?

Will an airbag fauly warning light on my dashboard invalidate my insurance if stopped by the police in England?
If you were stopped by the police and they examined your vehicle, they could decide that the vehicle is unroadworthy as an illuminated airbag light is an MoT failure, and depending on the specific wording in your policy could mean your insurance is invalidated.
Answered by David Ross
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