Who will replace my air bags for free?

It should be the manufacturer’s responsibility, usually

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From the December 2016 issue of the magazine.

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Q: My nephew had parked his 2008 Nissan Sentra when a gust of wind slammed his door with him inside. All of the side air bags deployed. He doesn’t have a warranty anymore. Will Nissan replace these air bags at no charge?

—Julie, Toronto

A: Your nephew does have a warranty. Provincial warranty requirements in Sale of Goods or Consumer Products legislation provide implied warranties that require a product to be fit to perform as intended for a duration that can go well beyond the written warranty. For vehicles, safety equipment is designed to last for the lifetime and is required to perform with close to absolute reliability. In the absence of collision damage to the door or some other external cause, an inadvertent air bag deployment should be the manufacturer’s responsibility and coverage should not be limited by the three-year “comprehensive” warranty that comes with most vehicles. Yet, when a component like an air bag fails, many automakers tell their customers to make a claim under their car insurance policy. Keep in mind, even not-at-fault claims can prompt insurance rate increases. This gets the automaker off the hook for the cost of repairs, and will usually count as a not-at-fault claim against the policy. In the minority of situations where a safety-related issue causes injury or property damage, the insurance company will pursue the automaker to recover the money it spent to settle the claim. These settlements are almost always confidential and neither the automaker nor the insurer advises Transport Canada. That’s wrong.

Ask Iny: Leave your car question for George Iny »

—Georgy Iny, president of the Automobile Protection Association


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One comment on “Who will replace my air bags for free?

  1. Why would someone make a claim on their insurance policy? The policy covers events – crashes, theft, vandalism, falling objects damaging the car! Folks should understand and read what the insurance contract actually covers them for. Read up and understand what you are buying. The Ontario Insurance policy as dictated by the Province is written in plain language. Also, collision and comprehensive coverages are optional. Many times drivers remove these coverages to save a few dollars. Insurance is not designed for faulty workmanship… unless something goes bad (GM ignition switches) and in those cases the fault and final responsibility rests with the automobile manufacturer.

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