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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
:bow:

After panel lights in a brand new 2003 Passat W8, including the “Airbag Warning” icon, began flashing crazily, I was slowing to turn off the highway when the driver's side head air curtain airbag exploded down without any apparent reason.

A few minutes later, after all the acrid smoke was gone from inside the car and I had my wits about me again, I headed very slowly to the VW dealership about a mile away.

The Passat's engine quit running though. So I parked the Passat and was starting to call for assistance using my cell phone when the steering wheel airbag exploded in my face. I have permanent neck and wrist damage and will probably be having therapy for another year or two.

There is no question that either inadvertent deployment was cause by an impact. The two witnesses in the car with me are about as credible as can be. They were prospective customers. I was a salesman taking them on a demonstration/test drive.

VWOA didn't and doesn't want to know.

Based on my research, I'm sure a fault not detected because the PDI was improperly done caused the air curtain to deploy.

The steering wheel airbag deployment was most likely triggered by the signal from my cell phone. The phone was within 2-3 inches of the airbag igniter. The electro-magnetic pulse from a cell phone antenna will, according to my sources, trigger airbag deployment if the antenna is close enough to the igniter. Documents I have come by indicate that the shielding against outside electrical interference with the igniter used by VW isn't sufficent to keep some cell phones from triggering an airbag when a phone is very close to an igniter.

I've been unable to get the media exposure I think this potentially deadly situation deserves. There are just too few reports of this happening, and most of them are about dealers and VWOA denying that this kind of thing can happen.

I also haven't found an attorney here in California who can figure out how to proceed successfully against VW since most of the airbag cases have to do with airbags that didn't go off.

It's truly amazing how many people don't or won't believe that an airbag can deploy when a car is being driven done a road or parked.
Airbags that don't deploy are dangerous because they don't provided protection expected.

Airbags that deploy inadvertently are dangerous because they can cause accidents, injury and death.

Any thoughts or tips will be appreciated.

Perhaps there should be a stand-alone "Airbag Problems" section.
 

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Loose female member
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I can't recall any other instances of this in the past 3 years or so of having been a member in here.
Maybe someone else can though.
I would guess this is not a common event.
As for the phone setting off an airbag, please --- that smells fishy to me..
Almost troll like ;)
 
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Yes the way i yap and drive i should check to make sure my bag is still in there cause it has not gone of yet.

Back on topic i hope your treatment helps you out, As far as exsposure it wont get any better than Clubb5!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
V6er said:
I can't recall any other instances of this in the past 3 years or so of having been a member in here.
Maybe someone else can though.
I would guess this is not a common event.
As for the phone setting off an airbag, please --- that smells fishy to me..
Almost troll like ;)

Airbags are deployed by an igniter that's an explosive device very similar to a powerful firecracker. The igniter is triggered by a hotwire heating up as result of a signal from the ECU.

An electro-magnetic pulse is transmitted from all cell phone antennas that can be powerful enough to heat up the hotwire or be mis-interpreted by the igniter as the "deploy" signal from the ECU.

Read any cell phone instruction manual. All caution about cell phone use near electronic devices and some even caution very specifically about cell phone use in a car.

All airbag igniters and other electronic devices in cars are shielded against electro-magnetic impulses. However, according to documents I've received from experts who work in the field of Electro Magnetic Compatibility in Europe, VW shielding is not sufficient to protect igniters against the most powerful cell phone signals.

VW technicians have said they have been warned at training sessions about inadvertent airbag deployment and told not to repeat what they were told unless they want to be a witness and out of work.

Something stinks for sure. But it's not what you thought.
 

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I have been suspicious about cell phone and airbags in the past.

But I have dicarded my paranoia ever since I realized that generally the same manufacterers supply most automakers with airbags and component so they would be responsible to test and safeguard against accidental deployment before they would ever be able to offer products to automakers.

If a cel phone were to set off an airbag that would have been found out long ago when they were not that common in cars. cel phone or airbags.

Most luxury cars have many airbags and they usually also offer dealer installed telephones.

That tells me that they had to be thouroughly be convinced that the two would not interfere with one another.

I am sure your car was suffering from a huge malfunction but that could not have been caused by a cell phone.


I do feel that you have a case with VW since they are supposed to sell properly functioning vehicle within reason and they did not come through on their end of the bagain became their faulty product caused you bodily harm.

I feel that if you change the focus of you pending suit you would get some sort of compensation for your damages. I think you are not being heard because your allegations are not ground with concrete proof.
 

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I think you have got your wires crossed on how Airbags work.

The simplest system would work essentially like this.


Sensor (this would signal the impact)

Control module ( this would register the location of the sensor and distribute ingnition signal)

Airbag/ignitor units(this gets the electrical ignition signal and deploys the pyrotechnic device that inflates the airbag.

The air bag has nothing to do with the ECU it is generally a stand alone system that can be integrated to the ECU if the manfacturer decides it wanted to add a saftey feature such as killing the ignition to stop the engine in the event of an impact.

If your claim that the packing of particular VW airbag may be the weak link of the equation that sounds like you have some grounds.

I think you should calm down and strategically build your case the first thing you need to do is familiarize your self with airbag operation so that you can put together a convincing explanation to (lay people) as well as some experts as to why you think that VW is responsible for you damages.

Win this case first so that it would show that a court awarded someone damages for unprovoked airbag deployment .

After you do that then either find some other people that this has happened to then launch a Class action suit.

Rigth now it just sounds like a big conspiracy theory cover up thing. You know what I mean He say she say but no actually proof of the alleged cover or Hush order.
 

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I have been in the major airbag manufacturers who sell to the major auto manufacturers and provided some of the X-ray equipment to them to x-ray every one of the igniters (I think they are refered to as "Squibbs". They take quality very seriously, all parts are tested and the electrical contacts are gold to resist corrosion over time.
Phantom is correct as far as I know, it is an isolated system. I second that you research airbags and learn as much as you can. Even if it wasn't the cell phone, you have a case. Who knows, maybe somebody will want to settle out of court to keep this quiet. Good luck.
 

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Wow, this a a wierd case. I have never heard of cell phone ellectromagnetic signal being strong enough to trigger an airbag?. They had the same thing regarding fuel pumps and cell phones, and even so they have warnings on every gas pumps regarding the use of cell phones (trying to stay away from law suits), it was proven to be a myth. Good luck with your rehabilitation and i hope that everything goes well for you.

Spooner, i would love to hear more about the x-rays and testing you guys do, maybe next week at the mini GTG :wink:
 

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Lisa Simpson
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You are thinking of the spiral wire in the airbag system.

Yes, a cell phone produces a field, but it is a tiny field. It can generate some current, but not on the order of the signal to the airbag igniter unit. Your phone would have to be in the ignitor unit to be close enough.

No one here will doubt you were in a car with a defective airbag system. Shoot, the way VW assembles electrical components, we'll believe just about anything with wires attached. The cell phone thing is a bit far-fetched, though.

Keep your research going and keep us posted on what you find. If there are any other instances, we will hear about them here. :)
 

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The cell phone causing the airbag to deploy is doubtful. I belief that the airbag system was defective and to track down the problem will be very difficult. Good luck with your recovery and your case.
 

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My prayers are with you for a full recovery!

As far as all the comments that poo-poo the cell-phone thing, all I can say is this:

Over 10 years ago, I had container ships that had to discharge explosives. In the NYC area, this has to be done at "Earle Naval Station". This is a 3 mile pier out of NJ that is on a Naval base. They take this stuff seriously. This was before 9/11 and they had strict security then! All cars parked on the pier had to be parked with the keys left in the ignition and had to be facing the shore (in case of emergency evacuation). CELL-PHONES WERE NOT PERMITTED ON THE PIER! This is because they CAN trigger explosive devices (There were signs to this effect). Have your lawyer check on U.S.Navy procedures.

If I misspelled anything and you can't find it on a map, PM me and I'll find out and get back to you.


I am also of the opinion that the quality control of cell-phones is not as high as that of air-bags. Although your cell-phone may have triggered the airbag, I don't think it indicates that VW is without blame or responsibility. Some of the above comments support this statement. If your current lawyer is unable/unwilling to persue this, I think you need to find a better (more ambitious) lawyer.

Good luck! (Pls keep us updated on this).
 

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Well, a lawyer shouldn't be too hard to find. This is tort law and VW effectively need to prove that there isn't even any reason to suspect that they could have been at fault.

In a recent case a plane crashed and the families of the victims sued the manufacturers of the backup vacuum pumps on the aircraft because they had been known to be less than 100% reliable in the past. There was no suggestion or evidence that the vacuum system failed or that the backup pumps were even used and yet the jury still found for the plaintives.

In this case the airbags went off and there wasn't an accident, all you have to do is get in front of a jury and convince them that it's likely shoddy work by VAG could have been at least partially to blame. Isn't tort law great.

In general I don't like the way tort is used in the US, but in this case it looks like VAG have an issue to address, even if it was just a one off installation problem.

With the numbe of Passat drivers who use phones I'd be surprised if a correctly installed airbag would be set off by a phone. Many drivers use 50W VHF and UHF transmitters, if airbags are so easy to set off you'd expect to see a lot more airbags going off.
 

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:poke: I don't want to sound like the loan skeptic here, but can you post some pics of your car with the deployed bags and no damage to the front? You must have something like that if you are trying to get the media involved.

There is no way a 1/4 watt cell phone can ignite the bag with and EM pulse. It is possible, I suppose, for it to confuse the control module. However, you don't describe being on the phone when the side curtain deployed. :???:
 

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I'm smelling a rat with the rest of the people here. I've seen cars flipped over, burned, cut in half, and everything else and the bags haven't deployed, and they are right, it is a completely separate system upon itself, you make it sound like there was a big electrical snafu with the side curtain going off, then the drivers, but the passengers didn't? they run on the same circuit, so if one goes, both go. on the cellphone thing, I used mine at work constantly with mainframe computers, and the worst I've ever seen is a screen flicker or a speaker buzz. they don't have nearly the current that it takes to send the bag off, the voltage the control module gives to the bag is pretty high. I'd believe it if a root beer was spilled all over the fuse panel and control modules, but otherwise, I'm calling shenanigans. let's see some pics. and getting the media involved? most newswhores would jump all over that in 5 seconds if it had even a tiny shred of fact. Dateline has done spots on all kinds of "defects" that were never really proven.
 
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