The AP reports 18-year-old Karina Dorado was nearly killed in Nevada on March 3 when “trachea was punctured by shrapnel from” a Takata airbag “inflator in an otherwise minor” car crash. Dorado’s 2002 Honda Accord was not included in the Takata recall, but had previously been “given a salvage title, repaired and resold in Las Vegas last spring.” Honda engineers believe the inflator had been removed from a 2001 Accord by a salvage yard and then installed in Dorado’s car during repairs. According to the AP, the incident “has exposed a hole in the government’s efforts to get dangerous Takata air bag inflators off the road,” as it is “perfectly legal under federal law for air bag assemblies or other parts subject to recall to be pulled out of wrecked cars and sold by junkyards to repair shops that may not even know the danger.”
Consumerist reports that no state or Federal agencies monitor the use of recalled parts in salvaged cars.
Advice for safely buying a used car. Because “salvage yards and repair shops can use potentially deadly Takata air bag inflators when they repair used cars,” the AP advises its readers on how they can protect themselves when buying a used car. The AP suggests the following steps: check the car’s history to track major repairs; check the car’s title to see whether it has been salvaged or rebuilt; ask for receipts if a card has had extensive repairs, to ensure new parts were used; and get an inspection from “an independent mechanic to check for any signs that it’s been wrecked and repaired.”
From the news release of the American Association for Justice.