Driver startled by sudden airbag deployment

A local man was backing out of his driveway and never hit anything when his air bags shot out
November 22, 2013 3:11:05 PM PST
Imaging you're sitting in your driveway backing out of your car and all of a sudden, the air bags shoot out. That's exactly what happened to a Chapel Hill couple.

Tim Bawden still remembers exactly what happened back in the summer of 2012. He was driving his 2003 Jeep Cherokee when the airbags deployed without an accident.

"Rolled about a foot to two feet and then it just bam," Tim said. "The powder from the bags was choking us so I put it in park. We got out of the car wondering what just happened."

Tim was confused because he says he didn't hit anything and was just slowly backing out.

"Being a professional driver it didn't make any sense to me because, you know, they're not supposed to deploy unless there's a force contacting the front of the car," Tim said.

His wife Nancy reached out to Chrysler and reported the problem. For months, she just kept hearing they were investigating. Then, she finally got a safety recall letter from Chrysler acknowledging the defect.

"I received the paperwork stating that it could happen, but of course ours had already happened," Nancy said. "They were going to do a recall on it and I would be receiving some more information, and that's all I got from them."

Months they waited with no news of a fix, all while the Jeep sat not drivable.

"The tires of course are going flat, the battery has died on it.   And then the main thing is the smell inside of here because the windshield is busted. It let water leak in it and it's mildewed and molded all inside of the jeep.  I don't think they'll be able to fix this," Nancy said.

After an entire year of no news from Chrysler, Nancy was fed up and decided to call me.

A rep with Chrysler told me they want to repair the Bawden's Jeep, but the part to fix the problem is not ready yet. He couldn't provide a time table of when the part would be available, but he did say that the Bawdens would be taken care of.

A rep with Chrysler then contacted the couple and offered to either to pay the current value of their 2003 Jeep or they could keep waiting. The Bawdens chose the cash and received a check for $4,500.

"I don't think we would have ever gotten any money if you all hadn't have gotten involved," Nancy said.

The lesson here is if you have an unusual problem with your car, the best thing to do is to contact the manufacturer right away to let them know about it. Also, research online to see if others are having the same problem. If enough people complain about it, manufacturers will take action.

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