A federal law passed in 2000 prohibits salvage yards and others from selling recalled parts taken from wrecked cars for use in auto repairs. But the law is seldom enforced and there is no central database for salvage yards to check to see if parts have been recalled.
The driver is among nearly 200 people injured or killed by the inflators, which can explode when the chemical propellant inside deteriorates. What’s different about the driver’s case is how the inflator wound up in her 2002 Honda Accord in the first place.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says its efforts have been focused on educating the salvage and recycling industry about the prohibition, and it has the authority to enforce civil penalties against violators. There is no federal law against selling a used vehicle that contains a recalled part.