Here’s why U.S. regulators say not to put rhinestone on the steering wheel

NEW YORK —
U.S. regulators are warning drivers to steer clear of aftermarket decals used to embellish a car’s logo on the center of its steering wheel.

Such metal or plastic emblems — which are typically adorned with rhinestones or other decorations and attached to the steering wheel with an adhesive back — can cause serious injury if ejected when the airbag deploys in a crash, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday.

At least one driver lost sight in one eye after an aftermarket decal covered in rhinestones became dislodged from the wheel during a crash and hit them in the face, NHTSA added.

“In a crash, the force of a deploying airbag can turn the product into a projectile, resulting in serious injury or death,” the federal agency wrote in a consumer alert. It noted that, “unlike the permanently affixed logo” on a car’s steering wheel, aftermarket decals can become easily dislodged.

“Any alterations or changes to your airbag or its cover can also cause it to not function correctly,” the agency said.

NHTSA is urging drivers to avoid purchasing these aftermarket steering wheel decals for all vehicle makes and models. Consumers who are currently using these emblems are also being asked to remove them.

Aftermarket decals for steering wheels can be found from numerous third-party sellers online — including on sites like Amazon, Etsy, Shein, Temu and Walmart. The Associated Press reached out to those companies for statements following NHSTA’s Monday alert.

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