Airbag recall continues to frustrate drivers

Takata air bag replacement

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The airbag recall continues to grow and frustrate drivers.

Earlier this month, Daimler Vans USA joined the list of automakers issuing a recall for 43,000 Sprinter vans that are equipped with faulty front passenger airbags. This latest recall just adds to the problem of getting the airbags fixed.

With nearly 43 million vehicles under airbag recall, there aren’t enough parts available and there’s quite a back-log.

The airbags were recalled because defects could send deadly metal fragments flying into a person if the bag deploys.


Back in March, Glenda Mills received a letter saying her 2009 Pontiac Vibe’s front air bags are part of the massive recall effort.

But, knowing there’s a problem and getting it fixed are two different things.

“I’ve called and called GMC and wrote letters to the CEO and got no results,” says Mills of her 6 month effort to get the airbags replaced.

Here’s what makes it so critical for Mills to get the Pontiac’s airbags repaired.

Her bother Terry is disabled and because he is in assisted living, all transportation needs fall on her. When Terry needs to go to a doctor or therapy, she has to use the Pontiac to ferry him about instead of her Hybrid car.

Also, Terry’s wheelchair and walker won’t fit in the her Hybrid’s trunk because it’s too small.

She showed CBS North Carolina how she fits her brother’s stuff into the Pontiac.

“I put the backseat down so the wheelchair and walker goes in the back seat,” she explained. “It’s a hatchback and it’s easy to load in an out, whereas my other car is not and it will not handle a wheelchair.”

With the Pontiac’s backseat filled, Terry must sit up front where the defective airbags are located.

“I think GM should live up to its word and give me a new airbag,” she says.

But, GM told her no parts exist.

“It’s like a bomb ready to go off in my car,” Mills says.

CBS North Carolina decided to try and figure out why there are no parts for the airbag replacement. We called Hendrick GM in Durham which checked on the issue for us based on the Pontiac’s Vehicle ID number.

After looking up the car’s recall information, service advisor Brandon Hyler discovered corporate “engineers are still working on a solution for a new airbag inflator.” He says until the engineers can figure out how to design a replacement for that part, the Pontiac cannot be fixed.

“It’s not right. People shouldn’t have to wait this long to get a safety recall,” says Mills.

Mills says because the Pontiac is not her primary car she is not eligible for alternative transportation under the airbag recall notice.

“They say I have another car and because I’m retired it’s not feasible to give me a loaner car.’’ Mills says.

Mills was so desperate she wanted the airbags in the Pontiac disconnected saying she would rely solely on the car’s seatbelts.

“That’s better than it is now. I could drive the car knowing I wasn’t going to set off a bomb on him in an accident or something’” she says.

But, auto dealers CBS North Carolina spoke with said they won’t disconnect the airbags for ethical and legal reasons, so Glenda is stuck with a car that needs a major safety repair.

“It’s frustrating and stressful,” says Mills.

We brought the situation to the attention of the North Carolina attorney general’s office. It told CBS North Carolina that Glenda should file a complaint with their office, but that too will take time.

Mills says until the airbag problem is fixed there is nothing she can do but keep putting her bother in the Pontiac’s front seat when she has to transport him, then cross her fingers and pray nothing happens to that airbag.

Email CBS North Carolina’s Steve Sbraccia if you have a consumer issue.

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