Air Bag Issue - Worth Fixing?

I have a 2011 Kia Sorento with 140k miles on it. The air bag dash light came on, and after having the dealership look at it, they diagnosed the problem as a faulty sensor mat in the passenger seat. They estimated it would be about $2200 to fix. I got a secondary quote from a non-dealership mechanic who quoted me about the same.
I am trying to decide whether or not it’s worth fixing (definitely don’t want to drive others with a defective air bag) OR if I should trade it in for a new/used car. The trade-in value according to KBB is about $5k.
My first impression is that I don’t want to put $2k into a car that’s only worth $5k. However, the car market seems to have super inflated prices right now. It kind of seems like a bad time to be buying a car. I’m not sure what is the best thing to do in my situation. Thoughts?

I’m kind of surprised the non dealership mechanic quoted that. Doesn’t seem like a huge job, but maybe I’m missing something.

One thing you need to look at, the trade in value for your car isn’t really the value of it. If you had to buy a car exactly like yours to replace it, you’ll have to pay quite a bit more. What’s the retail price? Maybe $8k?

I’d probably keep what you have with the market like it is right now if you like the car and it’s still reliable. The $2k you spend to fix it may wind up being less than the markup over MSRP for a new vehicle, and the prices of used ones have escalated right along with the new car prices.

If the car otherwise runs fine and meets your needs… I’d keep driving it. Try and avoid having a head on collision, obviously.



Minus the $2200 for repair.


It’s covered under the extended warranty that tester posted, will be repaired for free.

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… but an apparently extra-sleazy Kia dealership somehow managed to ignore Kia’s extended warranty on that exact issue. When the VIN of the OP’s car was put into the computer system at the dealership, this extended coverage should have popped up.

I don’t think I would trust that dealership to tell me the correct time of day.


I would not be happy with the Kia dealer who failed to tell you about the extended warranty…$2200 for his pocket???


The seat cushion might be damaged, if you puncture the bladder, the warranty does not apply.

If you are placing anything on any of the seats, remove all that stuff, see if it makes a difference. I heard a story, a shop customer says his car isn’t working right. Shop tries it, it works. Customer takes car home, but comes back in a few days later, says despite what shops says, it is still not working. This time shop manager watches carefully what happens when customer leaves the shop. Before leaving he opens back door and retrieves his briefcase from the rear seat. Needs briefcase for work. Turns out the briefcase on the seat was the culprit all along.

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I looked in to this sensor mat thing and there is a bypass you can get for only $14 for BMWs. It’s probably just a resistor. Just don’t put a rear facing child seat in the passenger seat.

If you buy another car you may be making payments. If you are paying $250 a month you will have paid the amount for the air bag in 9 months, if you have a $400 a month payment you have equaled the airbag cost in 6 months, If your car is otherwise reliable and you are comfortable with it consider fixing it.

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I’m surprised that the dealer did not check for the extended warranty. Call the dealer shop and ask about the extended warranty. Don’t assume that they know what you are talking about. Download the PDF file that @tester posted. Refer to it on the phone. If you do better with paper, print it and refer to it during your call with the dealer.


wow, I hope @jongentryemail comes back and see’s Testers link.

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I think you owe Tester a beer to say the least.

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@Tester THANK YOU for this link to the warranty coverage!! (sorry this response is so delayed) I showed this to the dealership and they ended up replacing the airbag sensor free of charge. Can’t believe they didn’t have it pulled up in their system when I first brought the car to them. Anyway, thank you for saving me thousands of dollars!!


thanks for sharing it its really helpful doc