Child restraints that may come apart in an impact. Fuses that could catch fire when overloaded. Tires susceptible to tread separation.
Those are some of the dangers American consumers face as Chinese manufacturers increase the number of automotive parts they are sending to the United States, according to consumer and safety advocates. They parallel problems with some other products from China ranging from medicine to pet food to children’s toys.
The complexity of today’s cars creates many possibilities for problems with imported parts: tire valves that break and let air escape; replacement window glass that does not meet the standards for tempered glass; high-intensity discharge headlight conversions that don’t meet federal standards.
There are so many automotive products coming in from China that American safety officials can’t keep track of them, said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety.
By Christopher Jensen
The New York Times
Mr. Ditlow has been researching recalls of Chinese auto parts in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s records. Those recalls are now posted on the safety center’s Web site.
Mr. Ditlow said his review convinces him that too many Chinese companies are unfamiliar with — or don’t care about — safety standards in the United States and thus don’t meet them.
For consumers, that means automotive equipment made in China is less likely to comply with safety standards than the same product made in the United States, Mr. Ditlow said.
“The companies in North America know that process,” he said.
Sean Kane is the director of Safety Research & Strategies, a consulting firm. He worried that consumers think there is more government oversight of automotive equipment coming from China than actually exists.
Dan Smith, associate administrator for enforcement at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, says one factor causing these problems is the speed at which China has industrialized.
“It is kind of like their Industrial Revolution happened in a quarter of the time ours did,” he said. “Therefore I think quality control measures need to be emphasized to the extreme in their products.”