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Wire under driver seat, causing airbag malfunction, severed by car wash cleaner. What should I do?

Discussion in 'Model S: Interior & Exterior' started by defthaiku, Sep 12, 2016.

  1. defthaiku

    defthaiku New Member

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    I'm wondering if anybody on this forum can give me some advice on this issue.

    I recently noticed the airbag malfunction light for my Model S was on. I thought it could've been caused by some work done by a car wash interior cleaning since I noticed it after the car wash. Today I cleaned out my car and noticed a severed wire under the driver's seat. I took pictures and sent them to my local Tesla service shop. They confirmed that the severed wire would result in the airbag malfunction light to come on. They also informed me that based on their logs the airbag malfunction light came on at around 2p on Thursday, September 8, which is exactly while I was at a car wash (I have an app on my phone called "Moves" that records my location and also have a credit card receipt documenting that I used my credit card at the car wash at that time).

    I'm concerned that it'll be difficult to get the car wash to pay for this damage. Any ideas?
     

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  2. chillaban

    chillaban Member

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    I'm not a lawyer, but I think you would have a difficult time blaming the car wash. They most likely asked you to sign a disclaimer accepting liability for damages, and it's also difficult even with the time stamp to establish that the severed wire was due to their actions.

    I would ask Tesla if it's possible that this wire could've been sheared off as a part of moving the seat forward or back. Either way I would hope that this could be handled as a goodwill repair considering the safety implications.
     
  3. Az_Rael

    Az_Rael Active Member

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    Well, having a Tesla with that log information sure will make the argument easier. I have a coworker who routinely gets into these sorts of arguments with various vendors (you might ask why he runs into this so often, but that is a different question). If the business won't pay, or come to an agreeable solution, he has good luck with a strongly worded letter from a lawyer. Most businesses will quickly change their tune in that case. Not saying it's right, but it works. (He actually subscribes to a lawyer service plan where he pays a monthly fee and they will write him as many strongly worded letters as he wants. Pretty sure he easily makes his subscription cost back each year :rolleyes:.)
     
  4. James Anders

    James Anders Member

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    I'm hard pressed to see how cleaning/vacuuming under the seat could sever those wires. A more likely cause is the wires were severed while the seat was moved. Or, perhaps the action of vacuuming dislodged the cable from it's clipped position and made it vulnerable.

    I see this as a Tesla problem and not of intentional misuse or carelessness.
     
    • Like x 1
  5. ChadS

    ChadS Petroleum is for sissies

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    I initially read the title as saying that your wife was under the seat causing an airbag malfunction. I am glad I was mistaken.

    The same thing happened to on an ICE of mine about 20 years ago. I just patched the wire together and it held for the 15 years we owned the car. Does the Tesla still complain even after the wire is fixed?
     
    • Funny x 2
  6. JohnSnowNW

    JohnSnowNW Active Member

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    While it may have happened at the car wash, I'm not sure how it could have happened with any equipment they would have used. Cutting through even one of the wires in that loom would taken quite a bit of force...to sever all of them like that...
     
  7. activejustin

    activejustin Member

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    The exact same thing happened to me on my Mercedes C250. Shortly after I had my car washed, started getting airbag warning lights. Had it serviced and they said one of the wires under my seat was cut. They covered it under the warranty. Not till a few weeks later did I think about the detail and that no doubt it happened then.
     
  8. defthaiku

    defthaiku New Member

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    Thanks for your replies. I'm torn about whether it's Tesla's "fault" (design of wiring harness, non-secured wire, etc) allowing it to be severed, or if it's the business' "fault" for moving the chair / vacuuming and accidentally severing the wires. Seems like a really minor thing to cause a major safety issue...

    It's nice to hear that Mercedes fixed it as part of their warranty. Hopefully Tesla would do the same if the car wash doesn't do anything (I expect they won't without the strongly worded letter).

    I saw one post above about splicing the wires back together myself. I wouldn't mind doing that if I could be pretty sure that it wouldn't somehow cause the airbag to deploy. Anyone know of any documentation on the airbag wire system for the Model S?
     
  9. Electric700

    Electric700 Member

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    At least the wires are color coded. I would first try contacting Tesla to see if they can fix it for free as this looks like it's more on the side of wire routing that could likely have been done better.
     
  10. aesculus

    aesculus Still Trying to Figure this All Out

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    Welcome to America. And we wonder why everything is so expensive and litigious?:eek:
     
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  11. scrmn

    scrmn Member

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    From the picture it looks like the 3 wires were pulled out of a connector - the wires were most likely not 'cut'. You can tell by the way the loom is 'taped off' and the fact that there is a small piece of bare copper on each wire. The car wash worker probably hooked the wire with the nozzle and just pulled hard to get it back out.
     
  12. Gizmotoy

    Gizmotoy Active Member

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    Almost certainly the case. Severed wires rarely have the insulation neatly stripped off exposing only a few mm of bare wire. ;)

    Pretty likely you could locate the connector and repair it without much difficulty... if you know the correct pin-to-wire arrangement.
     
  13. chillaban

    chillaban Member

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    That harness is likely a combination of the seat heater and occupancy sensor for the seat. That sensor won't cause your airbags to spontaneously deploy, but unreliable connections may cause the airbags to fail to deploy or deploy with the wrong strength for the collision depending on how the weight is mis-detected.

    Personally I would not mess with it. I had a past car with a manufacturing defect on that signal cable and the airbag safety system is extremely sensitive to small resistance fluctuations in that line and will flag airbag faults intermittently.


    If it were me and my family riding in that car, I'd have Tesla fix it (even in my dime) and pursue the car wash company in parallel.
     
  14. green1

    green1 Active Member

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    If you do decide to do that, disconnect the fire-fighter cut-loop near the battery, then remove the negative post from the battery, and then wait 5 minutes before starting (open the needed doors first!) This will prevent accidental airbag deployment. (Though that particular harness shouldn't have any way of causing airbag deployment, it's really just there to decide if your seatbelt is done up and how heavy you are to decide what force to use with the airbag once different sensors decide to deploy it. Disconnecting power is still a good precaution before any electrical work though)
     
  15. Toasty

    Toasty Member

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    this should be fixed under 1hr labor time. (if not 10mins).

    +/- $50/$80 shop time.
    if that.
     
  16. defthaiku

    defthaiku New Member

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    I should close out this post by letting folks know that ultimately Tesla did fix it all at no-cost to me, as goodwill. It took a while, but they did provide me a loaner the whole time (about a week). They replaced the entire seat (!), with the airbag wiring harness. Seemed kind of excessive to me, but I'm not complaining. They wanted to make sure it was done right I suppose. It was definitely a nice personal experience of Tesla's commitment to customer satisfaction.
     
    • Like x 3
  17. Gizmotoy

    Gizmotoy Active Member

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    Wiring harness must have gotten clipped on the seat side. They generally don't do repairs unless there's no reasonable recourse, so they just replaced the seat. Undoubtedly you could have had a non-Tesla shop do it cheaper.

    Really nice of them to take care of it for you, though! That's great!
     

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