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Tech Tips October 2012

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I-CAR Launches 14 New Online Courses

I-CAR announced that it has converted 14 I-CAR ProLevel 1 courses to an online delivery format to address the industry’s need for accessible, I-CAR Professional Development Program (PDP) training.

I-CAR says this new line-up of converted online courses, enables the organization to more effectively deliver the training needed for individual and business PDP training requirements.

Jeff Peevy, Senior Director of Field Operations and Segment Development said, “By converting the courses that are not often taught in a live setting, instructors can focus more time on the more technically advanced classes that are needed in their areas. In effect, helping people achieve their training goals,” Peevy continued, “Live classes remain an I-CAR priority for the ultimate interactive learning experience. To fully serve the growing training needs of the Inter-Industry, virtual instructor-led classes, which I-CAR recently launched to serve select local markets, and more online classes, are required.”

While these existing I-CAR courses are being converted to online alternatives, new live classes are becoming more technical and hands-on, for example the Live Demo format. The content in the recently converted courses is less technical and complicated, making it ideal for an online setting and many have been streamlined to offer even more role-relevant training options to the industry.

The following courses are now offered online:

– Air Conditioning – Part 1* (AIR02e)
– Air Conditioning – Part 2* (AIR03e)
– Bolted-On Exterior Panels – Part 1* (EXT03e)
– Bolted-On Exterior Panels – Part 2* (EXT04e)
– Moveable Glass (GLA01e)
– Cooling System Operation and Parts* (HEA02e)
– Working with Coolant and HVAC Controls* (HEA03e)
– Batteries* (LCS02e)
– Starting and Charging Systems* (LCS03e)
– Automotive Lighting* (LCS04e)
– Detailing (REF04e)
– Cosmetic Straightening Steel (STS01e)
– Removing and Installing Hardware and Interior Trim** (TRM02e)
– Removing and Installing Exterior Trim, Pinstripes, and Decals** (TRM03e)

* Credit hour value varies between Online delivery method and Live counterpart
** Credit hour value varies between Online delivery method and Live counterpart for Refinish technicians only

 

Government Warned Motorists About Counterfeit Air Bags

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration has warned car owners whose air bags have been replaced in the past three years that dangerous counterfeit bags may have been installed, according to auto industry officials who have been briefed by the government.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration alerted the industry in a series of telephone briefings Tuesday that tens of thousands of car owners may be driving vehicles with counterfeit air bags, industry officials. NHTSA testing has shown some of the counterfeit bags don’t inflate or fail to inflate properly, they said. In at least one case, a counterfeit bag fired shards of plastic and other projectiles on impact, they said.

The officials requested that their names not be used because NHTSA had asked them not to speak publicly about the problem until after an announcement scheduled for Wednesday.
NHTSA will ask car owners to check a government website, Safercar.gov, or call their manufacturer or local dealership to learn if their vehicle model is among those for which counterfeit air bags have been made, officials said.

No deaths or injuries have been tied to the counterfeit bags, but it’s unclear whether police accident investigators would be able to identify a counterfeit bag from a genuine one, officials said.

The agency has compiled a draft list of dozens of vehicle makes and models for which counterfeit air bags maybe available. NHTSA cautions at the top of the draft that the agency “expects this list to evolve over time.”

If the car is on the list and has had its air bags replaced during the past three years by a repair shop other than a new car dealership, owners will be asked to bring the vehicle into a dealership to determine whether the replaced air bags are counterfeit. Fees for checking out air bags could run $100 or more, industry officials said. Some types of cars have as many as eight air bags.

The counterfeit bags typically have been made to look like air bags made by automakers and usually include a manufacturer’s logo. Government investigators believe many of the bags come from China, an industry official said.

The bags are marketed to auto body shops as the real deal, officials said. Auto dealerships that operate their own body shops are usually required by their franchise agreements to buy their parts, including air bags, directly from automakers and therefore are unlikely to have installed counterfeit bags, officials said.
But only 37 percent of auto dealers have their own body shops, according to information on the National Association of Automobile Dealers’ website. Many consumers whose vehicles have been damaged are referred by their insurance companies to auto body shops that aren’t affiliated with an automaker.

Consumers who bought replacement air bags online will also be urged to check NHTSA’s list.

A wide variety of counterfeit auto parts has long been a well-known problem, industry officials said. But recent incidents have escalated concern by government officials. In August, federal agents confiscated nearly 1,600 counterfeit air bags and arrested a North Carolina auto mechanic, according to a report by the Charlotte Observer. The mechanic was tied by federal officials to another counterfeit air bag case last year in Tennessee, the report said.

Last February, Dai Zhensong, a Chinese citizen, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in federal court in Chattanooga, Tenn., to 37 months in prison for trafficking in counterfeit air bags, according to a statement made at the time by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Zhensong was a part owner and manager of the international department of Guangzhou Auto Parts, which made a variety of auto parts, many of which were counterfeit, the statement said. In 2010, he traveled from China to Chattanooga to sell additional counterfeit air bags and other auto parts. The counterfeit air bags were manufactured by purchasing genuine auto air bags that were torn down and used to produce molds to manufacture the counterfeit bags. Trademark emblems were purchased through Honda, Toyota, Audi, BMW and other dealerships located in China and affixed to the counterfeit air bags. The air bags were advertised on the Guangzhou Auto Parts website and sold for approximately $50 to $70 each, far below the value of an authentic air bag, the statement said.

**Unfortunately, the NHTSA alert seemed to suggest that consumers should check with dealership body shops as authorities on airbag usage. The alert doesn’t acknowledge the fact that independent shops perform the majority of collision repairs and that independents are as trustworthy as any other segment of the trade. Shops can use this video link ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmBCp-bnASg& ) for their own purposes if they receive questions from their customers. State Farm has already issued a message to its Select Service shops that the insurer will direct questions it receives from customers to individual shops.

An airbag chart designed by the NHTSA is available here.