Mr. Terrill J. Blair, Sr.
7013 86th Street, NW
Gig Harbor, WA 98332
Dear Mr. Blair:
This responds to your letter asking whether a used car with deployed air bags must have its air bags reinstalled before sale. As discussed below, Federal law does not require replacement of a deployed air bag in a used vehicle. However, individual State laws may require such reinstallation before a used car is sold.
You explain that you recently purchased a 1996 Buick LeSabre from a private party. You state your belief that the vehicles air bags have been deployed, and the air bags were not reinstalled. You write to ask whether this car [can] be sold without the air bags (safety equipment) being reinstalled.
I am enclosing two letters that explain legal obligations to replace air bags which have been deployed as a result of a crash. The first letter, dated January 19, 1990, is to Ms. Linda L. Conrad. The second letter, dated March 4, 1993, is to Mr. Robert A. Ernst. As explained in those letters, Federal law does not require replacement of a deployed air bag in a used vehicle. In addition, there is no Federal law that prohibits selling a used vehicle with an air bag that is inoperable because of a previous deployment. However, our agency strongly encourages dealers and repair businesses to replace deployed air bags whenever vehicles are repaired or resold, to ensure that the vehicles will continue to provide maximum crash protection for occupants.
Despite the absence of any requirement in Federal law, State law may require replacement of deployed air bags. You may wish to contact the Attorney General of the State of Washington to learn if there are any applicable laws or regulations:
Office of the Attorney General
State of Washington
1125 Washington, St., S.E.
P.O. Box 40100
Olympia, WA 98504-0100
The Washington State Attorney General has branch offices that might be closer to you.
I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Dorothy Nakama of my staff at this address or by telephone at (202) 366-2992.
Anthony M. Cooke