So in the movie Live Free or Die Hard the trash can against the front bumper of a parked car would NOT have deployed the airbags? Darn, another movie ruined by the internet...
And a woman at work just had her car totaled to the tune of $7000 because the biggest part of the damage from a relatively minor accident was $5000... for the airbags. The rest of the damage was less than that all together. So yeah, airbag deployment can be a big expense.
I also had a car years ago that the ignition failed, on my old 1979 Chevy Camaro. The ignition was getting looser and looser over time, until it locked between the "accessory, run and start" positions, so I could not remove the key. It was easily repaired by replacing with a new ignition lockset, by my brother who was a professional auto mechanic (he now teaches auto mechanics). My brother said I had too many keys on my key chain...he said that wears hard on all car ignitions and causes failure.
Fortunately, my adult daughter has a 2009 Chevy Cobalt, so not affected by the latest recall. I do think she has too much stuff on her key chain! Women have purses that can accommodate huge key sets with all sorts of gadgets attached (flashlight, pepper spray, giant ornamental decoration, etc). Men generally put keys in their pockets so the size is usually not large and heavy.
Not mentioned in the write-up above, is that most of the ignition failures on the GM cars were by women and shorter drivers, and also the large size and weight of their key set (heavy was stated). I think with shorter folks and their seat closer to the steering wheel, so their right knee could more easily hit the hanging key array, turning the ignition off.
For my current daily-driver car (2012 Honda Civic), partly due to the size of the key with built-in remote, I use just that one key...no other keys or gadgets attached, just a simple small lightweight leather keychain.
Another slight extension of the topic--for any of these vehicles, if you have a crank-down spare tire, check to make certain that the mechanism still works properly. Mine rusted; it would mostly crank down but would NOT release from the wheel. The mechanic reported that this is a common issue. Fortunately, I was in my driveway and was only trying to check the spare.
And the jack for my Avalanche is dangerous unles it's being used on a level, paved surface. Designed by monkeys.
The ignition switch problem goes even farther back than the last decade.
When the ignition switch on my (Used) 1998 Olds Intrigue started cutting out randomly while driving down the road shortly after I bought it in 2005, the research I did turned of frequent problems with both the Intrigue and Grand Prix (Built on the same platform in the same factory.) ignition switches. Reportedly, the problem was due to people hanging extra weight on the key, causing internal damage that continued to cause cut-outs even when there was no extra weight later on. I kept and tore the old switch apart, and found excessive arcing damage to some of the contacts, which may have been caused from wear on some of the plastic mechanical components allowing the contacts to "bounce" open, even when I just had the key-fob and a single house key on the keyring.
Being the cynical sort, I suspect GM was in no hurry to fix this as the vehicles were usually out of warranty by the time it started to happen, and the dealer "book" repair price was around $500 as they were supposed to pull the whole instrument panel to replace it. (There is an easier way that takes a fraction of the time, but they still charge "by the book"...) I also suspect that they don't want to admit problems over a decade old just because it's going to be hard to come up with so many replacement parts for the older vehicles that have gone beyond their stock/support age limit.
Bugs, I made the topic jump based on how long it took GM to acknowledge the ignition switch problem, and will take longer for the brake line problem. I imagine the costs associated with the brake line problem are even more than the ignition switch problem and we'll never see a recall.
Glad to hear that you were able to get your Avalanche stopped in time. I was definitely lucky that mine blew out in my driveway. Two years before the lines by the ABS block went, the passenger front line rusted out, I assumed it was related to battery acid dripping from my factory battery after the terminal just fell out, oozing acide up front. I spliced in a double flared repair piece and didn't think much of it until the glob of lines went by the ABS block.
My boss' Sierra had the lines burst in a panice stop on the Schuykill Expressway outside of Philly. Luckily it stopped in time and hHe was able to nurse it off of the highway and get it towed to a shop.
I'm not sure how the topic here shifted from the ignition switch problems to brake lines--but I've had similar experience to J Williams, with my 2004 Avalanche. Brake line blew, near total brake failure. I was towing a 33 foot travel trailer; I was able to stop only because I was on a lonely country road with lots of room, and because the trailer brakes worked. The truck and I limped to the garage, where they replaced multiple brake lines--and not with "original equipment". If this had happened on a highway at speed, it could have been catastrophic.
The assumption is that if the ignition is ON, there is an occupant that should be protected in a collision, whether the car is moving or stopped at an intersection, parked, etc. I suppose you could possibly make a case for having the air-bag system active if the ignition switch is turned to the ACCessory position, under the theory that someone is in the car using the entertainment system.
You DO NOT want the air-bag system armed when the car is simply parked. It would mean VERY expensive additional repairs should something trigger it, such as some idiot who doesn't know how to park hitting the car, or even more likely, pranksters intentionally bumping cars to watch the fun.
You also want an extra level of protection when working on or loading the vehicle provided by leaving it deactivated with the switch. Service people are supposed to apply an additional deactivation step that varies per vehicle whenever working on the electrical system.
The fault here lies with NHTSA. They wrote the requirements which say the air bags must NOT deploy with ignition off. Just like most of their other regulations, they are immense and almost totally incomprehensible. I've posted here before about my issues with my wife's Hyundai air bags involving the disabling of the passenger air bag. The 500+ pages of the document covering air bags do not contain one word about the intent of this requirement, only a very detailed description of the test case. The Hyundai engineers designed their car to pass the test case, not the underlying intent (to disable the air bags if the front passenger seat was occupied by a child or small adult). Their "ultimate response" to the mandated recall was to send out a sticker for the dashboard telling people to only set the seat to the test conditions of fully upright, center of fore/aft travel.
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