: Airbag Activation Problem



snowdog
02-09-13, 03:58 PM
I owned a 2013 XTS, Platinum Trim. I love this car. Unfortunately, my wife needs to use a memory foam cushion no thicker than 3" as she has a back problem. In the past eight years she has used this cushion, I have owned 5 cars including 3 Corvettes and have rented at least 40 cars of varying makes and models. She has NEVER had a problem with activation of the passenger side airbag. The XTS passenger airbag will not activate. She is 5'1" and weighs 115 lbs. I have tried in another XTS with same negative result. No problem with a 2013 CTS loaner. I believe there is a defect in the design of the seat and or sensor array. My guess is that it is related to the moveable panel at the front of the seat.I can activate the airbag if I place a thin hardback book under the cushion. Even if I wait 5 minutes and remove the book, the airbag turns off. I have tried many other maneuvers. Neither Cadillac nor the dealer has been able to help, only quoting the boilerplate in the manual about adding anything on the seat. I get that, but this has been a problem in no other auto. I reluctantly had to turn in the car and take a huge, but expected loss.

Has anyone else had this problem or heard of it? It really is a safety issue as I suspect a lot of older folks will buy this car and want to use a cushion. If they are even aware the airbag won't activate, they probably would just use the car anyway as most would not take the financial loss.

ral1960
02-10-13, 03:17 PM
Should have made her sit in the back.

Or were you letting her drive a $60k car? Now that's love!

Seriously, I can't imagine why the cushion would make a difference--it just spreads the weight more evenly. Did you try making her hold something heavy in her lap, just to see what would happen?

For 8 years with my Olds Intrigue, I rode around with a knit cap flattened out above the lumbar bulge--there was a hollow there that just drove me crazy after 10 minutes of driving, so I hadn't noticed it on the test drive. The wool clung to the seat fabric and held it in place--and it was handy if the weather got cold suddenly.

snowdog
02-10-13, 10:54 PM
Her weight should be enough. When I placed a thin, 81/2 x 11 inch hardback book under the cushion I could activate the airbag so the problem is not weight but sensor distribution or seat geometry. Of course, the hardback book aggravated her back pain.

I did suggest she sit in the back. She did not take this well. She offered to drive MY new car all the time. This did not seem a satisfactory solution to me. :-).

ral1960
02-11-13, 01:25 AM
Should have tried a paperback.
The memory foam must really work as advertised. Your wife should have been flattered that the car thought she was as light as a child.

Our company pickup has a dash switch for turning the passenger bag off, but that probably didn't pass the lawyers' muster once sensors became available and cheap.

dkozloski
02-11-13, 12:38 PM
Send her off to eat more beans.

Cadillac Cust Svc
02-11-13, 03:37 PM
Snowdog, I'm so sorry you all have been experiences this concern! I'm going to document your design feedback where the proper GM teams can access it, but please contact me anytime if you would like me to document further comments you have on this subject. (I'm also happy to call your dealer at any point for you to follow up on lingering questions.) I'm reachable at Katie_Lucille@gmexpert.com!

Best,

Katie
Cadillac Customer Service

snowdog
02-12-13, 02:25 PM
Katie,

Thank you for your response. I have emailed you the letter I sent to GM Customer Service yesterday. At this point, I just wanted to be sure the correct person gets the communication.

Pdabs
02-12-13, 03:44 PM
How is that an airbag activation "problem"

It's not a problem at all. It wasn't designed to work the way you intended to use it. I really don't understand that.
That's like saying there is a problem with the roof, when I put my coffee on it and drove away, my coffee spilled.

Now you knew your wife needs that cushion, why not have have her on a test drive to see if the airbag light would go off or not.

snowdog
02-13-13, 11:04 AM
In the communication I sent to GM, but will not detail here, she has used this thin cushion in 45 different vehicles, including a 2013 CTS and Corvettes without any problem whatsoever. With these numbers there would have been no reasonable expectation on her or any individuals part that this would NOT work in the new XTS. I do understand your point and, in some circumstances, I would agree with you. Clearly a complicated orthopedic appliance might not be expected to work. A better analogy would be taking a test drive and finding out that afterward that there was a minor error in the display system or the fuel gauge. If one cannot anticipate a problem, then a test drive will not uncover it. If something happens 98% of the time, then there is not statistical reason to expect a result which happens 2% of the time. In our new Lexus LS460 the cushion works without any problem whatsoever. Quite frankly, it seems difficult to find a vehicle that this cushion would NOT work in and that is the point. The fact that GM has a disclaimer in its manual that anything added to the seat may interfere with the airbag system does not mitigate the fact that this particular cushion should work. To my knowledge, this disclaimer is present in all auto manuals.

I do not believe that any reasonable person would expect a thin sheet of paper to interfere with the system so the GM disclaimer is truly beside the point as it would not be expected to absolve GM of all responsibility regardless of the circumstances

Not to belabor the point (well maybe a little), if I put the coffee on the roof of the car and drove away, I would EXPECT that it would fall off and take full responsibility. If GM designs a poor axle and it breaks a year later and I die, it would not really be my fault.

wutagal
06-03-13, 07:50 PM
Just bought a 2013 CTS and have experienced the same problem. This is something that you just don't think of when you go on a test drive. Unfortunately for us my wife test drove the car since on short distances it is her car of choice to drive. Anything over 50 miles, I usually drive and she is in the passenger seat. The car is at the dealer right now and they all seem to be scratching their heads. This cushion she uses for sciatica has worked in every other car we have owned or rented. We will try the "book solution".

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I have just posted a similar problem with a new 2013 CST we purchased 4 days ago. the dealer has the car now and has told me they can not figure a solution. I am 165 pounds and the bag does not activate for me either when I use the cushion. If Katie has found a fix, I'd sure like to know about it.

Cadillac Cust Svc
06-04-13, 11:36 AM
Just bought a 2013 CTS and have experienced the same problem. This is something that you just don't think of when you go on a test drive. Unfortunately for us my wife test drove the car since on short distances it is her car of choice to drive. Anything over 50 miles, I usually drive and she is in the passenger seat. The car is at the dealer right now and they all seem to be scratching their heads. This cushion she uses for sciatica has worked in every other car we have owned or rented. We will try the "book solution".

----------

I have just posted a similar problem with a new 2013 CST we purchased 4 days ago. the dealer has the car now and has told me they can not figure a solution. I am 165 pounds and the bag does not activate for me either when I use the cushion. If Katie has found a fix, I'd sure like to know about it.

Hello wutagal,

First of all congrats on your 2013 CTS! I am sorry the vehicle is experiencing an airbag activation problem. If you would like to discuss this concern further, please private message me on this forum, and if that doesn't work because you are too new to the forum, I can also be reached via Email at socialmedia@gm.com "ATTN LAURA".

Sincerely,

Laura M.
Cadillac Customer Service