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A Question of Ethics

I’m trying to determine if my anger is justified.

I was recently rear ended and took my car to the other person’s insurance company’s preferred repair shop to be fixed. Both the company and the repair shop are major companies so it seemed ok, my first real accident. When I dropped the car off the airbag light was on and I mentioned it to them. After the body damage was repaired I picked up the car and the airbag light was still on. The repair shop manager and insurance adjuster said nothing when they handed me the keys other then the talking about the repairs being complete. They both seemed surprised when I came back into the shop a few minutes later to complain. They explained away the light by claiming they didn’t have the tools to prove it was part of my accident and left me with no options but to take it to dealer.

Assuming they are honest about lacking the tools. Is it right to send me on my way without a warning that my car was unsafe?

I think I would be less angry if I had gotten a warning.

As a clarification the airbag light did come on at the time of the accident.

yeah, I d call your insurance company and ask their advice. your car was not made whole.

It’s quite possible that a body shop does not have the tools or expertise to get into any airbag diagnosis.

It could be that neither one of those two were aware of the light being on. The car could have been repaired and run out the door by the technician with neither the manager or adjuster looking at the car and both assuming all was well.

However, it’s the shop manager’s job to double check and make sure there are no loose ends along with subletting any repairs they can’t handle.
Hopefully the adjuster is covering any dealer repairs and hopefully both realize they open themselves up to a ton of liability by handing a car back with an airbag problem.

A dealer can scan the 'bag system for failure codes and isolate why the light is on…They can also reset the light and restore the system if the problem is transient. If something needs repair, they can make a judgement as to what caused the problem…

Make, model, year of the vehicle?

Not every shop will have the proper scanner to check out the airbag system. Since they were a “major” shop, I’m surprised that they didn’t. On the other hand I know of a guy who does nothing BUT airbag installations and trouble shooting. He travels from shop to shop. He is one of only two guys I know of who can and will reset an airbag computer module.

My guess is that the module was jostled or activated to the point where the system didn’t pop the bags, but determined that deployment was unnecessary due to the speed of the vehicle and the fastened seat belts of the occupants. It does all that in 1000ths of a second. The insurance company should pay for having it reset if that is the problem. If it can’t be reset, they owe you a new one. In fact new may be their policy due to liabilities involved.

Its a 2007 Scion TC.

I’m sure the dealer can figure out what is wrong and I can get the insurance company to pay up for it. It just feels like they are trying to pull one over on me or that they have a total disregard for my safety. Every oil change place has more then happy to point out every thing that might be wrong with the car and what service might be coming due soon even if its just minor issues. Seems wrong to not say anything about a safety system malfunctioning when you hand back a car when its as clear as looking at the dashboard lights.

I would not get too upset over this as long they’re taking care of the problem without argument and taking care of it promptly. I honestly don’t think this is pulling a fast one as much as it is just an error in the process.

Depending upon the shop, some have a bit of a bureaucratic maze that would make government proud and something could have been lost in translation so to speak. The technician could have said something to the manager who may have gotten sidetracked by another customer, technician, or phone call and just flat let it slip their mind.

That’s not meant to defend them because the bottom line is they should make absolutely certain everything is right before handing the keys over.
Just saying that keeping tabs on the myriad of things going on in a shop can be mind-numbing at times.


It is surprising that a major shop could not pull codes on the Scion. The Toyota SRS system is simple compared to some other cars. It will be an easy fix for the dealer. Make sure you inform them that it is accident job so they can contact the insurance companies.

We drove for many many years without air bags. We also drove for many many years without seat belts. A lot of us lived through it with no problem. Just have it fixed and bill the insurance company for it, and be careful driving as usual. As an after thought though, I wouldn’t deal with someone else’s insurance company, I would deal with my own and let them handle it. That’s what they get paid for. Then if something goes wrong, they are in a far better position to collect than you are.

This is extremely disappointing

There are so many scan tools out there that will read and clear airbag codes. A body shop that can’t afford this is kind of pathetic, in my opinion. After all, lots of airbags get deployed in accidents.

My snap on scanner will read and clear airbag codes on just about all of the major brands. So there’s no reason to buy a factory tool. That was just an example.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a electronic tensioning retractor deployed during the accident, and that is why the airbag light is on. This is very common

So if an electronic tensioning retractor deployed, what is the resolution? Does it need to be replaced or just reset the code?

It needs to be replaced.

I am surprised that the body shop did not take it to the dealer themselves if they did not have the tool required to diagnose the air bag light. I would insist that it be fixed and that they give you a rental car until it is fixed. They will pay for the rental, of course. And you should have had your insurer involved if you have not until now.