CBS4 Investigation: Lexus
Airbag Safety Concerns
FT. LAUDERDALE (CBS4) - We've come to rely
on airbags to protect us in an accident They are standard equipment
on just about every new car on the market,
But CBS4 reporter David Sutta found in one case,
drivers of a specific Lexus may not be as safe as they think because
of an alleged flaw in the airbag system that sometimes disables
A class action suit has been filed in Broward County
demanding that the car be recalled.
Artie Rosen, of Boca Raton, told Sutta he first noticed
the front passenger side airbag system of his 2007 Lexus ES 350
shut itself off about a year ago despite the fact that his wife
was in the seat.
"You're driving down I-95 and all of the sudden
it's on and all the sudden it goes off," said Rosen. "You
just pray that you don't have an accident in that time period. I
told my wife she has to sit in the back."
Rosen said when he realized it wasn't just his car
doing this, but his wife's too, he went to the Lexus dealership
for some answers.
"I've been there over 11 times and they came
to my house quite a few times with engineers," said Rosen,
"and it still doesn't work. They don't know what's wrong."
Broward attorney Scott Schlesinger, who filed the
class action suit against Toyota, said once word got out that he
was working on this matter potential clients lined up to have their
Lexus ES 350s tested by an engineer he had hired.
"So far each car that we've tested shows the
same problem," said Schlesinger.
Schlesinger says according to Toyota's own literature,
the Lexus ES 350 includes an upgraded airbag system that weighs
passengers; a sensor in the seat is supposed to activate the air
bag system if it detects more than 104 pounds.
In Rosen's car, engineers found his airbag system
did not turn on until the sensor detected 127 pounds in the passenger
"It's very scary," said Rosen, "you
think you have protection and you don't."
Three weeks ago, Toyota issued an internal memo informing
their service departments of the problem and instructed them to
make the airbag weight sensors more sensitive. It also instructs
them to only make the repair "based upon a customer's specific
"I don't get the sense that they are ready yet
to fully acknowledge that it is a problem," said Schlesinger,
"I think it's something they are hoping will go away."
In response to this CBS4 Investigation Toyota provided
a written response which said "Lexus stands fully behind the
design and performance of its front passenger airbag system"
and it "meets or exceeds federal motor vehicle safety standards."
In the statement, Toyota also advises that if the
airbag system malfunctions, owners should bring their vehicles to
a dealership which will "modify the system."
Schlesinger doesn't think that's enough since a person's
safety is based on them noticing a single light.
"I hope we can get them to recall the car and
fix the car," said Schlesinger. "(They need to) send a
letter out and let everybody know, 70-thousand owners of these vehicles
that 'hey we've got a problem and we're working on a fix."
For its part, Lexus doesn't think the weight test
is fair. They say the computer that controls the airbag system uses
more than weight to determine if the system should be enabled or
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