Last month, word has been going around about a Proton X70’s airbags failing to deploy during a crash that was making waves on social media. Proton has yet to announce a recall for their airbags although recently, the CBU Proton X70 is the only variant involved, albeit it’s for radiator fan assembly issues.
Air Bag faults and recalls are not rare in the automotive industry. Some time ago, the Takata Corporation issued a massive recall for all vehicles around the world that had their airbags installed due to numerous fatalities involving faulty airbags. Consumerreports.org reported that as of 2021, 67 million vehicles worldwide have been greatly affected by this recall.
With that being said if a driver or dealer is completely unaware of these recalls or intends to sell a faulty car to you, how do you know if the car safety features still work? How do you check for car safety features without a mechanic or tools involved? We’ve got you covered in this article.
Start with the visuals. Walk around the car.
Modern cars have built-in sensors in the headlamps and grille. If the car you are buying has a forward collision sensor or adaptive cruise control, it will have a radar sensor built into the front. Take note if the bumper is replaced, misaligned, or has signs of damage – it usually means that the dealer has hastily replaced the bumpers on a car that has been in an accident and attempted to pass it off as accident-free. Moreover, those sensors would not work if the refurbishment process did not involve rewiring and reinstalling them back.
Broken Seat Belt Buckle
Seatbelts are prone to malfunctions too! The seat belt consists of three major components: The seat belt, the male buckle, and the female socket. This guide here won’t be going too much into detail on how to check the car, but we do have some tricks to inspect the seat belt without using tools to disassemble it.
Start by yanking the seat belt hard. Put all your elbow grease and strength into pulling the seat belt like you’re mimicking a car crash. A working seatbelt should tug itself sturdy and hard to protect the occupant from a crash. Another way to check for a working seatbelt is to inspect the female socket. Unbeknownst to the previous owner or seller, dirt and debris can get caught inside the socket, or the socket is plain damaged and worn from years of use.
Do the Airbags Still Work?
Aside from seatbelts, an airbag would determine whether you will be meeting your maker today if your car does get into an accident. To check if the airbags still work, insert the car keys and give the vehicle a half start. You should see all the indicator lights, including the airbag light.
If the airbags are fine, the airbag indicator light should come on momentarily and go out. If the light stays on or flashes, there is a problem with the airbag system, it might be a sign of a faulty airbag system or it has been tampered with to pass on as mint.
Did you know your windshields are crucial for the deployment of your airbag? In the case of an accident, our vehicle windshields are designed to withstand impact. A windshield that is damaged or improperly installed may force the airbag out of the frame from a crash as demonstrated here.
Furthermore, grab a flashlight, and look around the glass. If the windshield has been cracked and repaired, you should be able to spot air bubbles, protrusions, or light cracks. An improperly installed or damaged windshield would have gaps on the side frames. Thus, we’ve also compiled a checklist to look out for in your windshield to see if it has been installed correctly:
Wavy Patterns on the Windshield
Source: Auto Glass Now Youtube Channel
A properly installed windshield should be clear like water. Having wave-like patterns on your windshield means that there is light seeping through the sides of the windshield or poor-quality glass is used.
Car Cabin Sounds Like a Wind Tunnel
Your car cabin should not sound like it’s going through a wind tunnel while driving at all – it should be kept to a bare minimum or barely audible. An improperly installed windshield would have all these problems, especially when driving at high speeds. It can be annoying to passengers and compromise a car safety system too.
Take the Car for a Test Drive
There really is no substitute for testing out the vehicle for yourself. As per customer service, you are usually entitled to have a test drive of the vehicle. If the car in question is modern in make, here’s what to look out for in the car’s safety features:
This part is pretty much self-explanatory. Put the gear into Reverse and slowly back up to an obstacle. If the sensors still work, you should be able to hear a beeping noise or have a clear view of the vehicle’s rear.
Several high-end vehicles like Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW come with a high-end blind-spot monitor or sensor installed. If the vehicle has a blind-spot sensor built in by the manufacturer, there should be light blinking displayed in the side mirror. A lot of cars these days are armed to the teeth with sensors from bumper to rear. A shoddy dealer would have missed out on a spot or two.
Check Engine Light and Abnormalities
The dreaded Check Engine Light. The bane of all mechanics and car owners alike. This little icon lighting up on your dashboard can mean many things. Ranging from catalytic converter failure, faulty alarm system, or simply one or more of the electronics inside the engine falling. Even a skilled mechanic cannot even find the root cause in a short period of time. Some shoddy dealers would outright try to disable the check engine light to hide any issues with the car.
Get a detailed Book of the Vehicle’s Service history
As the saying goes – The Devil’s in the details. A well-kept and maintained car should have a proper paper trail that documents all its service history at its official service center. These service records or books are usually kept in the glove compartment, located in the front passenger seat as standard.
A vehicle that has been serviced on time and through authorized centers will be in better running condition than one that has been serviced infrequently. If a dealer cannot present a detailed service book, it’s a sign you should run for the hills.
Read More: 5 Signs Your Car is About to Break Down
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What started off as a simple hobby of collecting die-cast cars grew to become an obsession with the real deal. Dabbled in property for a year before making a career change to follow his passion for cars. Drives a 2016 Nissan Almera daily with dreams of upgrading to a Toyota one day.