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Airbags - capitalising on their potential

damaged airbag
As the recent study conducted by MVDA and BVSF demonstrated, airbags that are correctly tested and inspected are fit for purpose and suitable for sale. Horrors such as the airbag in the photo has been 'doctored' to make the vehicle think it's functioning correctly. The driver won't know until it's too late.
Airbags are a thorny issue when it comes to the manufacturers who see them as safety related items and don’t want us to sell them. But let’s face it, when many a car is written off because of the cost of replacing the spent airbags, then this isn’t an area we can ignore.

It’s important to take safety related issues very seriously as none of us want to sell products that are potentially going to cause harm. What this means is that airbags must be checked and tested to ensure they are in ‘as new’ condition. MVDA and BVSF recently carried out a review using an independent consultant which demonstrated that there is no reason why airbags system components couldn’t be reused. An important point raised by the review was that airbag system components must be checked and tested prior to sale. Are you sure of the airbags you sell?

To get to the bottom of this issue we visited Airbagsforsale.com who have specialised in this area since 2000. During that time the company has grown substantially, currently with 32 employees operating from a 40,000 sq ft unit in Leicestershire. This is a substantial outfit with a multi-million pound turnover. And don’t think that this company simply buys from the dismantler at a low price and then sells on at huge mark up. Naturally there is a difference between the buy and sell prices but there is a lot that happens in between to ensure that what is being sold is fully tested and will function correctly when fitted to a vehicle.

Airbagsforsale’s MD, Cameron Bryce explained, “When we sell a set of airbags to a customer we must be sure that the car will recognise the bags as correct and function as they should. So many times airbags are supplied and that light comes up on the dash indicating a fault - nobody wants this. You may have checked the airbag and it is fine but the ECU is indicating a fault. We always supply a reset ECU. What this means is that the car recognises the ECU as a new, unused unit rather than a unit that has been set to indicate damaged airbags from a previous accident.” Cameron added, “Everything we supply is checked and tested. Our business is mainly to bodyshops and garage outlets and we have grown year on year by retaining existing customers as well as developing new ones. It is essential we supply a quality product if we want our customers to keep coming back”.

Cameron Bryce
Airbagsforsale.com's MD, Cameron Bryce is under no doubts that with the correct procedures in place, a used airbag is as reliable as a new unit. Cameron said, "The important thing here is the correct testing and inspecting and that's a lot more involved than simply looking at the item. This is essential if our customers are going to have confidence in the product".
I was quite surprised how much work Airbagsforsale carry out to supply a quality product, in fact they offer a full 12 month warranty on their bags and components. What is worrying is the volume of airbags available on eBay that the customer has no idea of quality. Have they suffered water damage? Are they badly copied chinese imports? They are now finding some of these airbags filtering through in airbag kits that they have purchased. Luckily their warehouse guys pick these out as part of their stringent checks prior to stocking. Have they been tested? Who knows? Competing in the private buyer market place is very difficult when there are so many illegal operators and eBay is so effective at driving prices down which is why the trade sales area represents the bulk of Airbagsforsale’s UK business. “When repairing cars is your job, it costs you money if a part isn’t correct or faulty. It is paramount that our customers are confident in our product which is why we take so much care to ensure that everything is right.” Cameron said. “It is even more important if those airbags are going overseas as the cost to return will turn a profit into a loss very quickly”. Currently 40% of the company’s sales go abroad.

You may sell airbags yourself and feel that you get a better return that way and see specialist companies as middlemen who take your profit. In the case of airbags it might be worth looking at the volumes you sell and your returns figures. If you don’t want to go down the route of checking and testing, after all we have to recognise that these are safety items, you might find it more profitable to sell them onto a specialist such as Airbagsforsale. Yes, they make a mark up but they do a lot of work for that mark up – work that ensures they are a quality product. They also are doing a great job of promoting tried and tested, green parts to the body repair and garage trades which will only help build confidence in trade sales for us all in the future.

If you want to find out more about the service they offer, call Cameron on 01455 233373, email them or visit their website.

September 2014

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