If we were Nissan, we'd want to get to the bottom of the reason behind accidental airbag deployment.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Feb 01, 2002

Dear Tom and Ray:

In a recent column, there was a letter from someone who had an accidental air-bag deployment in a 1996 Nissan Quest. You suggested that if the dealer could not find an absolute, certain cause of the deployment, the person should unload the car. How would you like to be the unwitting buyer of that used vehicle? Personally, I would not be comfortable doing such a thing. Why make someone else the victim of an accidental air-bag deployment -- something that could severely injure or even kill someone? Please revisit the issue. -- Robert

RAY: Consider it revisited, Robert. We suggested that the writer speak to the zone representative at Nissan and refuse to take the car back unless and until the company could provide a clear, unequivocal explanation for why the air-bag deployed, along with evidence of a definitive repair.

TOM: We also said that if we were Nissan, we'd want to buy the vehicle back just to study it and find out what went wrong. But you're right that we didn't specifically argue that Nissan and the Nissan dealer should be forbidden from reselling the vehicle.

RAY: We obviously agree that it shouldn't be resold, and we think Nissan should take the loss on this vehicle. But in reality, it's almost impossible to enforce something like that. If there's no recall on the vehicle, there's no federal law that prevents a dealer from reselling it without any explanation. And my guess is, Nissan would.

TOM: So the only thing we can do is appeal to Nissan's better instincts. So we'll send a copy of this column, and the original, to Nissan, and we'll ask them how they would handle a case like this. We'll let you know what we learn.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One