Dear Tom and Ray:
My wife's butt is SO HOT ... and it was caused by a 2003 Ford Focus Wagon's "seat warmers"! The seat warmers burned the seat material and my wife's new winter coat! I wrote Ford's Consumer Affairs department to warn them of a very serious burn/fire hazard. All I got back was some goofy letter about being unable to offer any assistance about our claim. We didn't submit a claim! We just wanted Ford to look into this safety issue so that nobody gets hurt! We filed a report with the NTSB. Anyplace else we should contact regarding this? -- Bill
RAY: Well, we're glad you spoke to the NTSB -- the National Association of Toasted and Singed Butts.
TOM: Actually, NTSB -- the National Transportation Safety Board -- is the wrong place for this. It investigates airplane crashes and stuff like that. And while it may have seemed nearly that dire when your wife was doing the lambada in the seat, the place to go is NHTSA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They're the people who handle auto safety.
RAY: You should definitely report this to NHTSA. You can do it from the organization's Web site, www.safercar.gov, or through the auto-safety hotline, 1-888-327-4236.
TOM: And, in fact, we checked the list of customer safety complaints (which you can do, too), and there have already been a few reports of overheating seat warmers on Ford Focuses. So I'm sure NHTSA will be interested in hearing from you. If they get enough complaints about a certain safety problem, they can open an investigation, which can eventually lead to a safety recall.
RAY: But in the meantime, you should get this fixed! I mean, it might be a fun trick to play on your passengers, but you don't want to create any actual griddle marks on anybody's tuchus. Or start a fire.
TOM: So take the car to your dealer and ask him to investigate. There should be a resistor that limits the amount of current the heating element is allowed to pull. That resistor, or the element itself, may be faulty.
RAY: And on your way home from the dealership, be a nice guy and pick up a gift for your wife. See what's on sale at Victoria's Flame-Retardant Secret.