Report: ‘I’m scared to get in the car’: Sask. woman gives up car due to ‘indefinite’ recall delay

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After waiting more than 15 months to have a recalled airbag part replaced, Tracy Smith has now taken the plates off her 2007 Ford Fusion.

It’s one of more than 70 million vehicles recalled due to a defective Takata airbag inflator. 

Ford Canada sent Smith a recall notice on March 24, 2017, indicating the “ruptured inflator may result in metal fragments striking vehicle occupants causing serious injury or death.”

The company said it cannot fix Smith’s car until it receives the replacement inflator.

“We were told that in June, like this month, we could possibly get it done and now they’re saying they can’t do it indefinitely,” said Smith. “I’m angry.”

Local dealership told her the work cannot be done

Smith said a few weeks after receiving the letter, her passenger airbag compartment began to bulge through the dashboard.

“The light comes on, the dash is bulging and there’s a recall,” said Smith. “I’d say there’s something wrong with it.” (Tracy Smith)

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The airbag warning light glows constantly.

“I don’t feel safe,” Smith said, noting she’s offered to pay for the repair out of pocket, but her local dealership will not perform the work.

Staff at Cypress Ford in Swift Current, Sask., told CBC that Transport Canada considers Smith’s Fusion “driveable,” thus rendering her ineligible for a rental or replacement vehicle.

They said only a “handful” of customers have received the recall notices, and said the defective airbag inflators are linked to malfunctions in hot, humid climates, which means replacement parts are slow to make their way to Saskatchewan.

Cypress Ford’s service manager told CBC he’s done everything he can at the dealership level, and Smith will be the first person they call when Ford sends the missing part.

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That doesn’t help, Smith said.

“It makes me angry that I have to fight like this when they put the recall out there,” said Smith. 

“When I’m told to take my chances or park it or buy another car, I can’t afford that.”

Smith relied on vehicle to care for children at her day home

Smith runs a day home, and carried extra insurance on her Fusion so she could take her charges on outings.

“I have not had a child in there since I got the recall notice,” said Smith. “It’s too much of a liability for everyone.”

“I have not had a child in there since I got the recall notice,” Smith said. “I’d never forgive myself if something happened to those kids.” (Paul Daniel)

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Smith and her family have contacted Saskatchewan’s consumer protection officials, along with their local member of parliament, who forwarded their concerns to the federal minister responsible for transportation.

She said they’ve heard nothing back.

Officials at Saskatchewan’s Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority said they do not comment on specific complaints, and would not confirm whether they’d heard other concerns about the airbag recall.

“If people are having issues replacing a recalled airbag, they should contact our office and file a formal complaint with the Consumer Protection Division,” said an official in an email. “Consumers may have protections under Saskatchewan consumer protection legislation.”

Smith said she’s frustrated, because she bought her Fusion new in 2007 and has maintained it ever since.

“I don’t know what to do,” she said. “I’m scared to get in the car.”

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