Motormouth: Offer of extra auto work might help dealer ‘find’ replacement airbags

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

March 25, 2019

Q: I read the column in which a reader who owns a 2007 Ford Fusion in need of $1,100 in suspension repairs was asking whether to do the work if the car’s airbags had not been replaced.

I own a 2008 Acura RL, which was included in the airbag recalls. I received the standard letter from Acura letting me know repairs would be covered and to contact the dealer to schedule the repair. I called the dealer and they told me they did not have the airbags yet and they would contact me when they receive them. I called a few times over the succeeding months and was told the same thing: We’ll let you know when they come in.

I brought the car in for a major service, timing belt, which includes the water pump and a complete tune-up. When I sat down with the dealer rep to go over the repairs, he looked at the vehicle history and reminded me the car was under recall for the airbags and that they could go ahead do that repair while the car was in for the timing belt service.

My advice to the Ford owner is to tell the dealer he’ll bring the car in for the suspension work if they’ll replace the airbags at the same time. My guess is they will “find” the airbags for him.

— D.F., Center Valley, Pa.

A: You make an interesting point, and I am happy to pass it along. Coincidentally, I got an airbag recall a couple weeks ago. I called the dealership to schedule the service and they offered an appointment for two days later.

Q: I read your column weekly and find it amusing most of the time.

Considering critters eating the wiring, you didn’t inform your readers that this is probably covered under their insurance. I have fixed many vehicles for chewed wires and have always informed the customer to call their insurance carrier. I had a Caravan the other day where a critter got under the battery and made a nest. The whole interior of the vehicle had to come out to replace the wiring loom. It cost over $5,000 in parts and labor. The insurance company wrote a check.

— TK

A: Great advice. Many motorists are unaware of what stuff the comprehensive coverage will pay for.

Q: We have a 2016 Audi. During the summer, most times when the air conditioner is turned on, it smells like vinegar. I contacted the dealer and was told that the condensation catcher needs to be drained. The dealer said it is not covered by the warranty and costs about $150. I never had this problem in any of my previous cars. They might have had an odor at first but not almost every time it was turned on.

I also thought it might be the cabin filter, but now I am just confused.

— D. S., Morton Grove, Ill.

A: A clogged condensation drain is surprisingly common. Stuff such as dust or leaf matter can collect in the bottom of the housing, much as hair can clog the bathtub drain. And the repair is often surprisingly simple. The obstruction has to be removed. The vehicle needs to be put on the lift to access the drain and the dealer is probably charging a one-hour minimum.

A new cabin filter is also a good thing.