I recently bought a new 2011 Mazda3. Everything about it has been great so far, except one glaring detail. When my 87 pound girlfriend rides in the passenger seat, the "pass airbag off" light comes on.
I complained to the dealer and asked them to adjust the seat sensors. They called Mazda, and were told the sensors couldn't be changed. Officially, the airbag should activate for anything heavier than 66 pounds, but apparently there are multiple sensors and the weight is not being distributed to all of them by my gf's skinny butt. The dealer then suggested she ride in the back, or sit on a heavy plate or something, which was insulting. They passed the buck and told me to call Mazda myself.
Before I wade into that bureaucracy, I want to do more research. I did find a similar complaint here: http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/problems/complain/complaintsummary.cfm?odi_id=10402674&prod_id=1035768&cmpt_id=257&type=1 But it seems like there was no resolution.
Getting to my questions:
- Am I right to be angry about this and demand action from Mazda? After all, my girlfriend is a 23 year-old adult. She's definitely petite but not the only woman of this weight in the world.
- Then again, is an airbag really necessary for someone of her weight? It seems to me someone of lower weight has less momentum in a crash and therefore might not need an airbag, assuming their seatbelt was on. I don't know enough about the science behind this though. (She's 5'-2")
- Assuming I do want the airbag to be active for her, and that Mazda doesn't help me out, is there any way I could modify the seat/sensor myself to make it stay on for her?
UPDATE: So it's a definite no on modifying anything. I'll call Mazda on Monday and see if I can get anywhere, and also contact the salesman who sold me the car, to see if he can help push anything forward. I'll update this question with whatever happens. Thanks for the help so far!
UPDATE 2: I called customer relations today and explained the issue. All the woman did was to create a case and then recommend I get it serviced "to check for defects". I asked her what I should do if it turned out to be a defect with the design, and she said nothing could be done. She did admit there had been a number of similar complaints throughout the past year, so it sounds like a moderately widespread issue.
I will go ahead a schedule a service appointment to have the seat looked at, even though I already know it's a design flaw - that way they can't stall with that option. After that, I'm not really sure where to head with this. It seems incorrectable, but then my options are only:
- Put my GF in danger by continuing to drive around with a deactivated airbag.
- Give up this car, everything about which I've been loving except this.
Both options seem outrageous to me, so I want to keep pushing this - but I don't know how exactly. Is Mazda legally bound to anything here? The dealer told me the airbag is supposed to be on for anyone above 66 pounds. Is this law, or just specification? How hard would it be to force a recall? (I'm guessing hard, but not impossible)