Debating Recycled Airbags

Oct. 11, 2016

I saw the article you wrote about using recycled airbags. However, you didn’t offer your opinion—what do you think about using recycled airbags?

Let me begin with restating the criteria from that article for the readers: “ARAPro Airbags recently announced that they are offering ‘alternatives to totaling a vehicle’ through using recycled airbags. ARAPro contends that with its strict protocol program of certification, the airbags have been carefully tested, meet stringent guidelines for reuse and are carefully packaged ensuring quality delivery. 


The authorized and certified vendor must identify, record and report the original vehicle information including vehicle year, make, model, VIN and airbag trim color if applicable. The modules must be visually inspected and show no signs of scrapes, nicks, scratches or other physical damages that may require it to be refinished.

Units are to be carefully inspected and show no signs of water contamination, including mold, mildew or standing water residue. These airbags are not recommended to be recycled.

There are to be no loose parts or other foreign objects attached; all connections are to be free of defect; wiring and connectors cannot show signs of corrosion, damaged wires, terminals or connectors; the “shorting bar” if included, must be inspected also; and there is to be no modification to the airbag components, including refinishing.

The suppliers of the ARAPro recycled airbags must have any dismantlers, handlers, inspectors or those who store or ship airbags, certified with a complete training program approved by ARA Product Services LLC. This certification is valid for one year.

Suppliers are required to be members in good standing with the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) and provide proof of compliance for the program and sign a performance agreement. They must also have all required governmental business licenses and other business applications as applicable. Each Program Participant must carry product liability insurance of no less than $5 million and be on file with the ARA Product Services.


Upon the sale of these airbags, the shop will be provided with the following documentation: Identification of: the vendor who is selling the unit; the recipient of the vehicle, including VIN, year, make and model; the airbag module cover color (and color code if available); the ‘donor vehicle’ including VIN, year, make and model; and the supplier’s internal stock number or locator number.

The shop also will receive a certificate stating that all materials have been carefully inspected and comply with the standards of the inspection protocol process.”

My opinion is that it is up to the industry to decide and I will help them move in that direction. However, I did receive a great deal of “pros and cons” to the article. The common theme within the responses from both sides was the liability exposure to the repair facility. Although there is $5 million worth of coverage from ARAPro, most felt that was not enough coverage. Many agreed that this would help “save some vehicles from going overseas” or “auctions” and keep them in the shops, but time will tell. Most “cons” showed concern for profit margins dwindling and eventually seeing the “cleaned undamaged” go away as they did with recycled sheet metal or other parts.

Ray Fisher is the president of ASA-Michigan. This article represents his opinion and does not reflect the views of ASA-Michigan.

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