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Completely Non Art Related Topic.....(is That Allowed??)

Posted by: Kelly Hazel on 11/08/2013 - 9:58 PM

This has nothing to do with art, but my psychologist said that if I told the story to some people I would learn to laugh and let go of the

Last week, I picked my son up from school. The school is less than a quarter mile from my home and we carpool, so my 8 year old son was sitting in the front passenger seat. He told me he had studied his spelling words during dismissal and didn't want to study again at home.
Knowing that his definition of "studying" means "I saw the words while I packed my bag" I was worried that this was not sufficient, so I told him "We'll see."
In my crazy little mind, I was trying to buy time to think of a short "abbreviated" spelling exercise that would be fun for him, but make sure he knew the words.
Unfortunately, he snipped back, "I've already done them. I'm not doing them again."
Unacceptable. "No," I said, "I will decide whether you do them or not!"
At that point, he muttered under his breath, "I will never do my spelling at school again!" and he stabbed the yellow #2 pencil in his hand into the seat.
I heard a popping sound, but upon inspection, discovered that he hadn't actually punctured the upholstery on the seat. Unfortunately, a few seconds later, I noticed the airbag light on my dashboard flashing.
It did not stop flashing.

The next day, I took it to the dealership service center. Apparently, there is an airbag sensor control module located in the passenger seat. It turns the airbag on and off based on whether an adult or a child is seated there. My son, managed to hit the seat in just the right manor to destroy this sensor, and in turn, disable all of my airbags. Over $5,000 to fix it--we have to replace the entire airbag computer system.

I cannot opt not to fix it because NONE of my airbags would deploy should I have an accident. The car is too new to consider trading it in for a newer model. How does this even happen??? How can a little 8 year old boy do $5k in damages to a car that he is not even driving, in a fraction of a second??? With a simple pencil?

Okay. End of rant.
Thanks for letting me vent. If this is too far off topic, I apologize.


Oldest Reply

Posted by: Marlene Burns on 11/08/2013 - 10:02 PM

Sell Art Online
Is this your culprit?


Posted by: Kelly Hazel on 11/08/2013 - 10:05 PM

Ha! No, amazingly enough, that is an adorably sweet little boy....who doesn't belong to me.


Posted by: Mike Savad on 11/08/2013 - 10:08 PM

seems a bit odd that a pencil can break a sensor like that. i would ask this to the car company. imagine if you dropped a bag on the seat, or god for bid, sat on the seat in just a certain way. it could be a recall thing. i wouldn't go in detail like that, but tell them the main issue.

---Mike Savad


Posted by: Kelly Hazel on 11/08/2013 - 10:09 PM

This one is mine:
Art Prints

And when he was younger:
Photography Prints

...Maybe it's the red hair....


Posted by: Melissa Bittinger on 11/08/2013 - 10:14 PM

omg, that can be funny in a few months or years. That seems a little overly sensitive for the airbag system if an eight year old can disable the system but not even break or damage the upholstery. I'd want an answer or at least question the manufacturer about that and also check with your insurance, if you haven't already.

edit: typing when Mike replied...


Posted by: Kelly Hazel on 11/08/2013 - 10:22 PM

They got an ear full... Oddly enough, there was a recall on the airbag sensor for that seat a couple of years ago (my car is 4 years old, but I keep my cars a long time).
I'm a smallish person--just over 5 ft tall and not quite 100 pounds and any time I sat in the passenger seat, the airbag would turn off (there is another light that lets you know it's off). I spoke with them about my concerns, and they said that because I was the size of a child, it was safer that the airbag not deploy. A few months later, there was a recall and we got the car fixed, but it still turns off sometimes if I'm not seated just so. I'm still annoyed because I am NOT the size of a child. I'm a grown up!

After the pencil incident, I spoke with them again concerning the light, not mentioning the pencil incident (because honestly I hadn't yet connected the pencil incident to the light coming on yet), and they said it was not covered under any recall. I am not sure whether I am angrier at my son for breaking the car, or at the manufacturer for making a car so fragile that an 8 year old could do more than $5,000 worth in damages during a little temper tantrum that lasted less than a second.


Posted by: Mike Savad on 11/08/2013 - 10:28 PM

i would seek out a consumer goods division of either the car, or maybe a news channel, there must be some place that deals with lemon cars. if an 8 year old boy can break one of the most important sensors of the car - that's not a good thing. there must be a government thing that deals with the safety information of these things. i really find it hard to believe that the sensor would be right in the chair. i think it's a coincidence with the pencil.

you might have brought it in for the recall, but they may never have changed any parts. i wonder if you could bring it in again to a different place to see if they really did do anything.

---Mike Savad


Posted by: Melissa Bittinger on 11/08/2013 - 10:39 PM

Definitely push the manufacturer and do Mike's suggestions. I would leave out the pencil, that should NOT have disabled the system.


Posted by: Rich Franco on 11/08/2013 - 10:40 PM


Nice story.



Posted by: Mike Savad on 11/08/2013 - 10:44 PM

i think if a pencil can hurt a thing like that, there should also be a hole in the chair. what kind of car was it btw?

---Mike Savad


Posted by: Jane Schnetlage on 11/08/2013 - 11:06 PM

I feel for you, my dear. Kids do break a lot of things over the years. Wait until they start driving. At least with your child, it was an accident. In the late 1960s, when we were very young, my dad bought a new Volkswagen. We had only had it two days when my sister, who was in first grade and just learning to write, took a rock and scratched her initial 18 inches high on the shiny black door. It is a funny family story now but I remember how mad my dad was at the time.

I have teens and young adults and my youngest is 13. I and my husband are both ADHD as are all the kids. There are days when everything is tough and the whole school and homework experience has always been very hard. A few mild suggestions which might or might not work depending on how much your kids are like mine. From the beginning we set goals together and let kids help figure out how to meet them. If the goal was an A in spelling, we discussed together how much work time they had to put in, I let them try what they thought appropriate, they got a test grade, we discussed how well they did and again let them suggest how much more they had to modify their work schedule to hit the goal. There was a reward when they met the goal on the report card. Our kids are bright and could do the work, they just had to learn how much effort was needed. I spent lot of years nagging before I figured out they did better when they figured out at least part of the solution for themselves. Yes, some times you have to insist but I found our kids fight us less when they get some say so on how to solve the problem. My youngest (who has always been an A student) came to me earlier this year and told me he was failing two classes. I did not get mad, I asked a lot of questions about why. We discussed when and how he was losing homework and being disorganized and both of us brainstormed solutions. We went together and bought some new have organization supplies. We hit on several ideas to try and he is now doing fine and back to As and Bs. What really made me proud is when he told me that his friends said they would never tell their parents they were failing. He thanked me for not getting mad and told me how sad he thought it was that they could not talk to their parents. Things like that make it all worthwhile. Hang in there. Nobody ever realizes how hard parenting is until you are in the middle of it.


Posted by: Wendy J St Christopher on 11/08/2013 - 11:22 PM

Kelly, what kind of car do you own?

I want to be sure not to buy one.


Posted by: Photography By Sai on 11/08/2013 - 11:32 PM


Posted by: Kelly Hazel on 11/08/2013 - 11:37 PM

It's a Nissan Rogue. I actually really liked it until now. It was surprisingly comfy for both "tiny" people like me, and giants like my husband....we've never agreed on a car before! But I will most likely never buy another Nissan again.


Posted by: Dan Turner on 11/08/2013 - 11:43 PM

Thanks, Kelly. By disclosing the ONE piece of information that ties this story together, you open the possibility of someone saying, "That happened on mine, too. Here's how I fixed it."

Dan Turner
Dan Turner Fine Art
Dan Turner's Seven Keys to Selling Art Online
To Enjoy Dan Turner's Pinterest Boards, Click Here


Posted by: Melissa Bittinger on 11/08/2013 - 11:52 PM

Not sure this helps exactly but?

Here's another site:


Posted by: Gregory Scott on 11/09/2013 - 12:02 AM

The airbag itself is expensive, but if he stabbed the seat with his pencil, the airbags should not be the problem. Airbags in new cars are "smart" and this includes a seat sensor to determine how heavy the occupant is, I think. So it's quite likely that replacing the sensor would fix the problem if he happened to damage it accidentally. So that part sounds ok. But the airbag sensor is surely NOT $5000. I doubt that the airbags themselves or the computer is damaged, just the sensor. Try an independent dealer, and perhaps talk to your insurance company. If it really is $5000, you're most likely covered except for a lower amount of deductable.


Posted by: Marlene Burns on 11/09/2013 - 12:05 AM

I had two redheads. It's definitely the hair color!


Posted by: Melissa Bittinger on 11/09/2013 - 12:14 AM

Tell them it would be a shame if you had to report the story to the local news channel because of the possible danger to you and your family driving a car with a faulty sensor they are refusing to replace when the vehicle has a history of recalls.....................maybe the dealership could try calling the manufacturer one...more ....time!


Posted by: Jack Torcello on 11/09/2013 - 6:18 AM

When I was at school - spelling was fun
made into a game or chant/song.

Who could forget how to spell

Em Eye Double Ess
Eye Double Ess
Eye Double Pea

learnt over 50 years ago...?

Or even

Eye B4 Ee
Except after Cee!

I don't have an airbag! :(


Posted by: Mike Savad on 11/09/2013 - 7:37 AM

the whole thing sounds fishy... question - this will be sexist: did you bring the car to the mechanic? or did your husband bring it in? because garages still abuse their power by telling the female that it will cost ever so much. where as the guy, who looks more knowledgeable in his eyes, may speak the truth.

i'm thinking it's a scam to replace the whole system due to a pencil doing something. i can see a broken wire, or, well... that's about it. even the sensor should be covered in something protective due to it's importance. i wouldn't even bring it down to a dealer. i would bring it to a garage that you trust (if you have one), and ask them to look into it, tell them where the incident took place. i don't know how the computer works, or if they have to change the seat (like it might be molded in). but to change the computer, airbags, etc - doesn't sound like a real thing to me.

and that tv thing - i might just do that. i don't like being on camera, but for all you know they may break a case wide open of fixing things (or claiming to fix thing), for a high price when it's not needed.

---Mike Savad


Posted by: MM Anderson on 11/09/2013 - 8:36 AM

Yep, it's the red hair, definitely.


Posted by: Bradley Clay on 11/09/2013 - 9:50 AM

Ok, time for the mechanic to chime in here,

as for the air bag, there is a occupant sensor in the passenger seat. these sensors are very expensive, and labor intensive to replace, as the entire seat has to be totally dis assembled, then re assembled, cushions and all,. the new sensor must then be calibrated and programmed to interface with the existing system.

$5K seems excessive, but several thousand is not out of the question. The airbag system is one of the most advanced networks on the car. it monitors every aspect of the car, including speed g-force,steering angle, brake force, occupant weight and position, and makes a determination in 1/100 of a second if the bags, and which bags should be deployed.

Let me know the exact year and model of rogue,S or SL, 2 or 4wheel drive etc. Im at work today, and have access to look up recalls and service bulletins.



Posted by: Bradley Clay on 11/09/2013 - 10:06 AM

Without knowing the exact vin and trim package, I looked on my info, and it appears the rogue seat is serviced as a compleete assy. the retail is about $3K for the seat.

there are also 2 recalls on the passenger seat sensor, but dont know if they apply to your exact model or not.


Posted by: Melissa Bittinger on 11/09/2013 - 11:41 AM

@Bradley, one of her posts she said they did have it replaced under the recall a couple years back. Sounds to me like the replacement wasn't installed correctly. Her second or third post....


Posted by: Bradley Clay on 11/09/2013 - 12:17 PM

Yes, but then she said in talking to them (not telling them about the pencil) they said it wasnt covered by any recalls.....

The seat sensor is a precision electronic sensor. there is a fine line based on the occupants weight whether the airbag should deploy. it can be more dangerous for a deployment on a light person vs not deploying.

magnets and such can also have an effect on these sensors. Most dont realise that in some modern cars the seat contains as much electronics and pyrotechnic devices as a fighter jet seat.

faulty installation wouldnt be a factor, if that were the case the airbag self diagnostic monitor would pick it up immediately.


Posted by: Debb Starr on 11/09/2013 - 12:25 PM

How about, "You're now grounded until you're 18 years old and with no allowance". See? No problem. :)

I'm mentioning this as a former teacher, impress upon him that rule #1 is he has to respect you.

Rule #2 is that he has to use words when he's angry and pay the price for the damage he causes.

Boy, that's an expensive lesson you both had!


Posted by: Mike Savad on 11/09/2013 - 12:29 PM

now the question is - could a well placed pencil hurt the sensor?

---Mike Savad


Posted by: Sandra Clark on 11/09/2013 - 12:41 PM

I would turn them in to someone
the TV thing sounds good
you should not have to pay to fix this
that being said we do live in the world of It is not always fair"
let us know what happens



Posted by: Rich Franco on 11/09/2013 - 1:25 PM


No I doubt this. And considering a "used complete seat assmbly" is under $300, I have a problem with the whole story, as nice as it is.....................



Posted by: Bradley Clay on 11/09/2013 - 1:54 PM


yes a used seat is way to go if you can find one that matches. problem usually if you are trying to get a used seat from a newer car, it generally means the car has been totalled or flood damaged. both these usually desroying the seat.

@Mike, yes

the sensor is actually very fragile, Ive seen them damaged from dogs climbing around on the seat, and had one damaged because a customer had a crt monitor on the seat in a way that put uneven pressure on the seat cushion.

I dont understand why people think someone else should pay for a childs misbehavior? be it a seat, or throwing your camera on the ground.

When my daughter was a toddler she destroyed a $1500 dvd player (yes they used to cost that much!)by packing it full of dog food. My lawsuit against Denon, is still tied up in court... and the local tv news still wont report on it!


Posted by: Mike Savad on 11/09/2013 - 3:26 PM

is this just for nissan? or any car? - i have a subaru forester, should i remove all the pens?

---Mike Savad


Posted by: Angelina Vick on 11/09/2013 - 3:43 PM

Wow...that sucks.

My son hasn't racked up that numerical value of damage but we have had many occasions similar to this where things end up broken.


Posted by: Rich Franco on 11/09/2013 - 7:46 PM


Yes, as I posted, a used seat, from a reputable dealer is the way to go and then bring the seat and have it installed for a few hundred dollars.......



Posted by: Bradley Clay on 11/09/2013 - 8:12 PM

@ rich,

I totally agree, the challenge is finding a boneyard seat thats good. Whenever we go that route for any used part, other than a "hard part", many times we have had to send it back and request another. The problem is when someone buys used from the internet. Good luck if its a bad part! Being a professional tech in a professional shop, with an account at said boneyard, they take your word if a part is faulty.

Other issue would be most Dealerships won't install a used part. For the last 28 years I have always worked at honest reputable independent repair facilities. If a used part will fix it, I don't mind installing it. It is to note that the warranty is only as good as the junkyard warranty on the part. If the customer wants used it is at their own risk, I do expect to get paid for each time I install the used parts.

the issue of airbag components also is a touchy subject, what if the used part doesn't deploy correctly, and someone dies?.... thats a whole different discussion.


For some reason in the back of my head I had you pegged as a forrester guy. Lets just say, we can still be friends.....

The passenger occupant detection sensor is a thin film type object just below the seat cushion. The only way to describe it is like a touch pad. the kind that feels like a shallow thin blister, that barely gives way when you touch it. it is an electronic device that varies resistance as pressure is applied. By sending a controlled voltage to the sensor, and watching the return voltage, the airbag computer can tell the pressure applied. With correct calibration, this can be interpreted to read the weight of the occupant.

Being a thin film. it can be damaged fairly easily. any thing that would, kink,crease, or puncture would cause implausible readings. The airbag system monitors itself constantly, and if it sees a problem anywhere, it deactivates itself. In other words if it doesn't have all the info it needs, it can't be trusted to make a life or death decision, and turns itself off.

As far as pens in the car, you are safe. Just never have disgruntled children in the car.

EDIT: I have never in my 28 years seen a seat sensor in a subaru go bad, just for the record. BMW and Honda are the most common. and its only about a $600-$800 fix on those


Posted by: Mike Savad on 11/09/2013 - 8:21 PM

a forester is a practical car that's good in the snow, i hate driving, subaru was always at the top. i also need cargo because i'm a pack rat. but the car is really uncomfortable. and i hate that they don't include door locks, only the driver has one. with the trunk there is no way to open it from the inside or out if the lock fails.

glad i didn't go for the other two overpriced cars.

---Mike Savad


Posted by: Bradley Clay on 11/09/2013 - 8:35 PM


I do have to say, the biggest, and only problems with subarus are leaks. everything and everywhere. oil leaks,coolant leaks, Transmission leaks, cylinder head leaks. Other than leaks, they have very few problems.

Its just the very ..... "unique" ..... person that of all car manufacturers, they choose Fuji.


Posted by: Bradley Clay on 11/09/2013 - 8:37 PM

What ever happened to the OP? we have totally hijacked this.

She just needed a therapy vent and she dis appeared.


Posted by: Mike Savad on 11/09/2013 - 8:41 PM

so far never had a problem. but i don't ride it that often. and now that i work at home, i'm basically the old lady that drives it to the store and back. only the store is garage sales.

---Mike Savad


Posted by: James Tanyu on 11/09/2013 - 8:46 PM

for the love of humanity and other interest (except political, religion and race) yes FAA allows off topic..from earthquake to Sandy to Boston bombing and yes even typhoon,,take a look who knows you can create art from this surreal scene:


Posted by: Vivian ANDERSON on 11/09/2013 - 8:48 PM

Thanks James, and wow, what a terrible storm and so many affected........

@Mike: Subaro Impreza is THE hottest item for theft,resale, among the petrol-heads here.............................


Posted by: Bradley Clay on 11/09/2013 - 8:51 PM

what is a "Petrol Head"?

definitely a down under term!


Posted by: Mike Savad on 11/09/2013 - 8:55 PM

yeah it's a terrible storm but what does that have to do with this topic?

i never went with the fancy versions of the car, just plain vanilla, well cherry, because the car is red. didn't get the sports package, i do have the moon roof. and it's not that attractive since i accidentally dented the entire car. a note for those with ice on their car - don't use electric tape to break it up, it dents the car. but it does work well if you don't mind giving yourself hail damage. oh well. i really should wash that thing. i used to do it like every day when i bought it, then gave myself heat stroke, and it became a yearly event.

---Mike Savad


Posted by: Mike Savad on 11/09/2013 - 8:56 PM

it's a term for drivers that try to out chase their boomerangs.

---Mike Savad


Posted by: Gregory Scott on 11/09/2013 - 9:34 PM

I wash my car and truck whenever it rains. No problem, no effort.


Posted by: Mike Savad on 11/09/2013 - 9:36 PM

usually i would either wait for the dew to form, and because i don't like the car dripping on me while driving, i use one of those california squeegee things, and it moves most of the water and dirt off. otherwise i wait till winter and the snow pushes most of that dirt right off.

---Mike Savad


Posted by: Bradley Clay on 11/09/2013 - 9:41 PM


I'm a rainwasher too.


Posted by: Joy Bradley DiNardo Designs on 11/09/2013 - 9:44 PM

Sorry to hear about your challenge but interesting to read all the comments....It's the red-hair and the "Look!"
Hope everything works out for you. Mike and the guys have a few valid points worth looking into
Joy Bradley

Photography Prints


Posted by: Kelly Hazel on 11/10/2013 - 8:51 AM

I'm still here! Sorry, I was away for most of yesterday.

Everything Bradley said is pretty much spot on. I originally called about the recall because honestly, never in my wildest dreams did I think a little pencil could cause the airbags to fail, so I thought it must be defective. Fast forward to yesterday, and I got a look at the sensor--Just as Bradley said, it's a thin, rigid "pad" filled with silicone, and there is no doubt the pencil broke it. You can see the "puncture" spot. And apparently, you can't replace just that one part, you have to do the whole assembly.
I really wouldn't be comfortable with a used one, and the dealership said they wouldn't install a used one due to safety concerns anyway, so I would have to find a mechanic, and I don't know of any trustable ones besides the dealership.

That said, our car insurance is going to cover it, minus the deductible. It's covered under "Vandalism"--my kid is a vandal! I feel like a very crappy parent. I am making him pay the $500 deductible. He's been saving for several months to get an Xbox, so he had $190 already. I took that, and he'll get no allowance until the full amount is paid back. I also gave him a list of extra chores he could do to earn money toward his debt in order to pay it off faster.

Mike, I think your "sexist" comment may have had some merit. I first took the car on my own and the quote they gave ME was $5,200 (Though he did say he wouldn't be able to tell for sure until they opened my seat up, which I wasn't prepared to let him do that day). When I came back with my husband (after calling about the recalls) the quote had fallen to $4,500, and the written quote they sent to the insurance company was only $4,200. What gives??


Posted by: Mike Savad on 11/10/2013 - 9:21 AM

not to condemn you parenting style, but i think its' a bit unfair to punish that harshly, for what basically was an accident. i would say he's having trouble in school and this was a call for attention. he's only 8. if he meant to do damage he would have keyed the car. this is something you could have done. i think i would do a 50-50 here, let him keep the money he earned (because it's important that he learns to save money). but also to share the cost by doing the extra chores. otherwise i'm betting he will act out more. people will get used to not getting allowance, so from that point on, he'll mean to do it.

there was no way he or anyone could have ever known that could happen with a pencil.

---Mike Savad


Posted by: Bradley Clay on 11/10/2013 - 8:35 PM


well glad insurance helped out. the 20% difference in the estimate is fairly normal. The initial high price was a worst case scenario, because they couldn't do an exact diagnosis.

the $4500 was the more accurate estimate. The lower cost to the insurance is generally because they won't pay most of the diagnostic time, or calibration and reprogramming time. and they pay a different matrix on parts and labor ( like medical insurance)

I disagree with Mike, this is a great time to teach a responsibility lesson. My kids would be working this off, after a good ass whupin' of course! collateral damage because of a violent outburst is not an accident. Its more like involuntary seatslaughter.


Posted by: Craig Carter on 11/10/2013 - 8:46 PM

I just had a recall on my Sonata for that same type of sensor. Fortunately there is no problem with mine. But, I know exactly what you are talking about. My son now 10 just started riding in the front seat a few month's ago. Here is what I would suggest since your car is older. Contact a few junk yards to see if you can replace the entire seat which should be cheaper if you can find one that is in a junk yard or used. This also eliminate those fake man hours for maintenance. Good Luck! I would also suggest having him sit on the back seat where its safer for kids anyways. Never thought this would cost that much money. Shop around for a local mechanic and not the dealer.

Edited: Just saw Rich's post which was much earlier. Yes, look into a used part if possible.


Posted by: Mike Savad on 11/10/2013 - 8:58 PM

i dunno, something like the airbag system isn't something you want to get used. or you might get a switch that happens to have a pencil wound in it. you wouldn't know it was broken until it was far too late.

---Mike Savad


This discussion is closed.