About the Colony

Faulty air bag left me fearing for my life

I feel like I’ve been driving around for the past several months with a loaded shotgun aimed right at my face.

It was almost a year ago that I saw on the news that a safety recall notice was being made for certain vehicles outfitted with faulty air bag inflators.

My 2005 Ford Ranger pickup was included in the initial announcement, so I called a Ford dealer and read them the vehicle identification number. They verified I was a lucky winner. Then last July I received the official notice.

Yep, I was the proud owner of a vehicle that had an air bag inflator housing that “may rupture and deploy abnormally in the event of a crash.” If that wasn’t enough, the notice said such a rupture could result “in metal fragments striking the driver or other occupants resulting in serious injury or death.”

The notice informed me that “Ford Motor Co. is working closely with its suppliers to produce parts for this repair,” and that I would be notified by snail mail when the parts come in.

So for the past several months these thoughts have been racing through my mind as I drive: How much of a crash does it take to set off a faulty air bag inflator? How do I even know the whole air bag thing would work under normal circumstances? Was I at more risk on the relatively smooth freeway than, say, one of Atascadero less-than-smooth boulevards? Could going over the speed bumps in a shopping mall set the whole thing off?

“Why don’t you call the dealer?” my wife suggested. She’s great at following up on everything

I always say something like, “No, they said they’d let me know when the parts were available.”

“But you got the notice last July,” she reminded me, saying I really should check on this issue. “You need to read more carefully,” she often says.

So I called last week and reminded the dealer I was in possession of a vehicle with a faulty air bag inflator. I read the VIN and what do you know, the parts were available. I made an appointment and had the work done Monday.

And my wife was right once again. I should have read the notice more carefully. I should have been more forceful in following up.

And I discovered, in reading the notice once more, that only the air bag on the passenger’s side was the one to prematurely fail.

So see, I had nothing to worry about after all.

Lon Allan’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades and his column appears here every week. Reach Allan at 466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.