Piston Slap: A Big Problem With PODS?
Almost every rental car I’ve driven, regardless of make or model, in the last 18 to 24 months, particularly in the Bay Area and especially if the car has 20,000 or more miles, has the passenger detection system for turning the airbag on/off broken. Ford, GM, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, it doesn’t matter. Sedan, SUV, sports car, again it doesn’t matter.
The first time it happened was in a Malibu. I’m driving with an alarm going off and I keep scanning the dashboard for a message or idiot light. Pulled over and checked the doors were all closed and trunk closed. Then I noticed the blinking light for the passenger seat seatbelt not being buckled and that a passenger is detected in the front seat. Nothing was in the seat, not even a piece of paper. After I secured the seatbelt for the invisible passenger the alarm stopped. I had to drive the car that way for the rest of my trip.
This has repeated itself in almost every rental I’ve had since. The most recent frustration was a 2017 Kia Optima I just had, which again required me to drive around with the passenger seatbelt buckled for the invisible passenger.
Does this mean that my personal vehicles will eventually befall the same fate? Is there something that rental car drivers are doing that abuse this system? Does California have a different standard? What gives?
Passenger Occupant Detection Systems ( PODS) ensure airbags deploy with the correct amount of force for the corresponding weight of the airbag’s recipient. I’ve noticed that passengers less than 100 lbs will trigger the “air bag off” warning, with no warning for zero (or heavier than 100 lbs) passengers: while every application tweaks the parameters, that’s the gist of it.
Known causes were liquid spillage and wiring harnesses physically failing from passenger seat use. And maybe, possibly, here’s another reason to stop stabbing your knee into the stupid seat cushion when grabbing something in the back seat? Look at the size of the PODS bladder in the above photo!
But all that’s in the past, so your (seemingly random) sampling of rental vehicles suggests another round of recalls is needed! I suspect there’s more “passenger seat turnover” in Bay Area rental cars than less congested parts of the country. Perhaps any Uber likely to hold more than 2 customers at a time is also affected?
I doubt this is a problem with the magnitude of Takata airbag recalls, as only vehicles with poorly designed wiring/routing, precisely-spilled beverages and/or a rental car amounts of “passenger seat turnover” are likely susceptible. What say you, Best and Brightest?
Send your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.
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