How can I know if my escort is safe to drive?


#1

Hello and greetings to discussion forum. When I bought my 95 escort lx back in january, the sale was as is. Naturally, I assumed that the car I bought had the factory dual airbags in place and also that the seatbelts would actually restrain me in case of an accident. Now it appears to me that the passenger side airbag could be missing, and, the seatbelts do not restrain when I nail the brakes. Other than that the car operates very well for a higher, 177,000 mile vehicle. What should I do? Could i ethically sell the vehicle

in this condition? How can I be sure that I would be protected in a collision?


#2

Number 1, airbags aren’t that important. Also, I don’t think passenger airbags were mandatory until fairly recently (if they are, I’m not sure.)

Airbags, especially on cars made before 1997, can be extremely dangerous. They deploy with too much force, and can cause serious injuries, especially to children and smaller people. There have been reports of children being decapitated by an airbag. Of course, I would hope no child will ever be in the driver’s seat of your Escort.
Secondly, airbags have been prone to accidental deployment, in light collisions or for no reason whatsoever. There have been numerous cases where an airbag has deployed while the vehicle was being driven down the highway, distracting (or injuring) the driver, and causing a collision.
So, ultimately, airbags do not make a car safe, just because it has airbags does not make it safe. Actually, the risk of injury is greater when a vehicle is in a collision where the airbag deploys and the driver is not wearing the seatbelt. Airbags are a supplementary restraint system, they do not replace the seatbelt. Wearing your seatbelt is by far the most important, and most effective safety device in your vehicle, after the driver, of course.

Which brings me to your second concern, that the seatbelt doesn’t lock when hitting the brakes hard. Fact is, they aren’t designed to. I think in my 02 Accent’s manual, it states that the seatbelt will lock only when in a collision, that hitting the brakes hard will not cause it to lock. So having the belt not lock when braking is not a sign of a malfunctioning seatbelt.

I’m surprised, though, that a safety certificate is not required before registering a car with a new owner - it’s mandatory in Ontario. If you are concerned about your seatbelt’s operation, a mechanic may be able to test it - can any mechanics here confirm or deny that a test can be done?

In any case, your car is not unsafe to drive because there isn’t a passenger airbag. And the seatbelts were not malfunctioning. One concern though - you mention that the passenger airbag is missing. Do you mean the vehicle is not equipped with a passenger airbag, or was it deployed prior to your purchase? If the former, then that’s fine, if the latter, then that means the car may have been in a collision, which is far more serious that not having a passenger side airbag.