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PostPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2015 6:15 pm 
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Location: Charlotte, NC
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Mind those wheel well rust holes if you 92-99 car has one...

I knew that was something I had to fix at some point soon, but hadn't gotten around to it, which ended up being a very bad thing to procrastinate on.

Driving through torrential rain on the 23rd going from Mass to Doylestown, PA for Christmas. Lots of water coming down on the car and lots of water on the road. I distinctly remember a few "log ride" moments where the water splashed up the side of the car. Truly treacherous drive, without the extra drama that ensued....

Shortly after reaching NJ I noticed the airbag light was flashing, Mark was driving with me passenger. I have seen airbag lights come on in cars enough times, but never saw one flash. Pretty concerned, but an internet search revealed nothing helpful. I had an airbag light on in my green car for a while without issue, so I thought, let's just get there, not much we can do and we're so close to our destination. A few minutes later, I kicked my clogs off and noticed the carpet was wet. The water bottle must have leaked! Wait, no, that is way too much water, carpet was soaked, I quickly realized it was a leak from the car. On a hunch, I put my hand behind my seat to touch the rear floorboard behind me. Sure enough, almost 1" of standing water, I could swish my finger in it. Whelp, that's why the airbag light is flashing! We were on I-287 in NJ, within about 10 minutes the driver's side airbag deployed while Mark was going 70 mph. Incredibly, he took it like a man, didn't let it rattle his nerves and kept the car going straight and regrouped quickly. I instructed him to open all the windows and exit off the highway immediately. He did get burned and bruised, thankfully he likes to sit up really high so the airbag hit him in the chest instead of the face. Terrible fumes! He exited and pulled into a side street, and I swiftly got out and disconnected the battery and pulled the airbag fuse. We spent the rest of the drive with the windows down in the rain because of the smoke and fumes. What a drama, and glad it wasn't worse!!

I am pretty positive that, based on the areas of the car that were wet, a large amount of water got kicked through the wheel well hole throughout the torrential rain. It would have stayed contained to the rear passenger floor pan depression unnoticed, but traffic was freaking horrendous so all the stop and go likely tipped the water forward to get onto the airbag module under the passenger seat. It was a perfect storm. I took the seats out yesterday, pulled up the carpet and shop vac'd about 2 gallons out of the carpet and floor combined.

Fix your wheel well holes sooner rather than later, and if your airbag light is flashing and you can't get to a shop to get the code read, might be safer to pull the fuse than to risk the airbag deploying on you at highway speeds! Thank goodness Mark has nerves of steel, and the driver's side bag is so easy to replace. Going to the yard tomorrow for an airbag and airbag module.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2015 7:40 pm 
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WOW!!!!! Glad Mark wasn't injured any worse. If not sitting in your seat just right, you could get decapitated from a deployment.

As to pulling the airbag fuse, my 1992 SSE will not start without it. Very glad your's will run without it and you were able to get to your destination. Hope 2016 is a much better year form Mark and you. - BC

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2015 9:59 pm 
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Wow! Tell Mark I said nice job! That would have sent most swerving into more danger.

Good to hear it wasnt more serious.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2015 4:45 pm 
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That is frightening stuff, and thanks for the cautionary tale! Glad you're both ok.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2015 5:58 pm 
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Good to hear there wasn't a real bad outcome to this! I'm not overly familiar with your vintage, but generally speaking, with that much water under the carpeting you could have problems beyond just the air bag system. In the 2000+ Bonneville (perhaps some others), GM used a sealed connector at the air bag module and the component itself was also sealed. Otherwise, automakers don't otherwise use sealed connectors within the interior so there is a lot more potential for grief.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2015 9:20 am 
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Yes indeed, will definitely be replacing the airbag module. I am encouraged by the fact that the seat switches all still work. Had everything drying under a fan for a few days. No Bonnes at the junkyard, so I just removed the driver's side airbag and unplugged the module so we could get back to Massachusetts.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2015 1:59 pm 
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Oh wow! Glad that wasn't any worse, because it certainly could have been.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2015 10:13 pm 
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Holy crap! A lesser man (like me) would have soiled a perfectly good pair of Underoos if an airbag went off without warning. Amazing composure! Bizarre incident, and good to hear minimal injury.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 2:39 am 
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Yes indeed, very grateful for Mark and our good fortune given the circumstances!!

Now, on to the repair... if the driver's side air bag deployed, I figured I replace the airbag as well as the module under the seat. Then I figured I need to replace the clock spring too. The question is, after I source all these from a junk car with an intact, compatible system, will the system have to be "reset" in any way by a dealer? A friend told me there's some law in Massachusetts (land of nanny laws) about not being able to use a car with a deployed airbag, because during inspection they'll be able to see that in the history even if I replace the busted components. He maintains the car simply cannot pass inspection even if I get the parts I need. Did some googling, and I could only find that the car will fail inspection if the airbag light is on or if the airbag light is deployed. I'm unclear if that means that the airbag is deployed and hanging out all over the car, or deployed and afterwards replaced? Wish it wasn't a holiday tomorrow so I could call the RMV.... not like they are terribly accessible or helpful anyway though....

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 2:00 pm 
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That would be a very unusual law. There are many vehicles repaired by auto body shops that have had air bags deployed which are deemed safe once the appropriate service has been completed. This may not be the case where you are, but again, I'd be surprised. With all due respect to your friend, I don't believe you're getting accurate information. In many cases it may not be reasonable to replace all the necessary components (from a cost perspective), but I'd disagree that if this is done correctly that there is still some magic code stored deep in the car that will indicate a prior deployment. What qualifications or prior experience does your friend have to support this or is it a case of "I heard that..."?

I would be inclined not to repair the car, but not exclusively for the air bag reason alone.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 11:22 pm 
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Joined: Fri May 23, 2008 12:26 am
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Location: Charlotte, NC
Year and Trim: 96 SSEi- 157K
Qualifications? Corona-induced gossip. Did some more research today, it seems like as long as the light isn't on it'll pass inspection. I couldn't get another cheap old car that is as well maintained as this one, and I want to avoid a car payment. I think I'm going to keep on fixing it for now. Really struggling to find a place that will repair the rust hole properly. I called six shops in my area and they said no, when I asked for recommendations they said most shops quit repairing rust. What??? I found some craigslist characters who claim to repair rust holes...

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2016 4:34 am 
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Not a lot of places will tackle rust repairs. They just never turn out good (long term) and people (generally) have unrealistic expectations as to what they will get in return for their hard earned money. It's just not worth the headaches for the shops. Too much other work makes it easy to turn away jobs like this.

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Turn Signal Mirrors, Center Console Courtesy Lamp, Rear Outboard Heated Seats, PVD Chrome 18" Factory Rims, Upgraded
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2016 6:24 pm 
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Wow, crazy airbag experience! That smell is the worst. Nothing about an airbag going off is every pretty and I hope I never have to endure it again. Not something I wish on anybody and I'm glad to hear nobody was seriously hurt.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2016 6:07 pm 
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Rachael I'm glad you are both ok..

This has been a long running problem with the 92-99 H body cars.. and there were reports with air bag deployment with these... I think having the air bad module under the passenger seat may not have been such a good idea, but maybe the designers at GM thought that much water would never get into the car...

I know when I had my water leaks and was fighting them I tore the interior out of the car and said WTF is that doing on the floor board where water can get to it.. Its supposed to be a sealed unit, but that doesn't mean water will never get in... Gotta thank GM for that one...

I think you can get another module just to be safe... Usually when it blows it blows both air bags.. I am not sure that you need a new clock spring, you may simply need the air bag and replacement module..

Too bad you don't have a guy like Matt Strike around you to help fix the rust... And odd as it sounds my parts 94 SSE has those exact same rust holes.. No idea why as my 95 is still in great shape in those areas..

Again, glad you are both ok.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2016 7:44 pm 
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What a boss for being able to keep driving!

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2016 1:00 pm 
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Don, thank you for the info! I guess I haven't been around much if I didn't see your reply until just now! Thank you for the info about the clock spring. It is easy for me to imagine it might have been damaged given the heat of the explosion, Mark had some pretty good burns on his forearms, but that said I have successfully aligned a clock spring and it was nerve-wracking and confusing. I'd be happy to not have to do it again. So if I just need the module and horn air bag then that's sweet! I think I'm just going to fiberglass over the rust hole after removing as must rust as possible. I don't expect to have the car for 10 more years, but I sure would like to have it another year or two, it's just too nice to part with right now. And yes I'm sentimental as usual.

I was just at a yard in PA on Monday, and was lucky enough to find a 97 and a 98! But, the module under the seat was a different shape than mine. I would have taken the horn pad, which obviously looks identical, but the tags on the back did not match mine. I was squeamish to use a horn pad that was designed for use with a different module, so I went home empty-handed. Therefore, I have a big question: does anyone know if 96 used a different module than any other year? Having owned 3 96s, that would not shock me, quite a lot of things on the 96 cars are year-specific.

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PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2016 8:47 pm 
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Update- got a driver's airbag and the module for $100. Installed, light is off and it didn't blow up. Looks like I'm in the clear! Very relieved, I was afraid something screwy might have happened with the wires getting wet, but my car is gonna be ok :) I was half planning to have to replace it! Not ready to do that yet, I really like this car a lot.

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PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2016 9:57 pm 
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Nice. Good to hear you're hanging on to it.

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07 Infiniti G35s 6MT
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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2016 5:58 pm 
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zuper8 wrote:
...and it didn't blow up...

Everything's turning up "Rachael"!

:poke:

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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2016 5:59 pm 
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For rust repair I am new guy here but I will throw out my recommendations. Get a decent grinding disc or sanding disc and start buffing dirt,paint etc off around the hole, you can use a 3M product 08115 panel bonding adhesive. You can look up using it on youtube even.
Then just form up a piece of sheet metal to fit area. Eastwood company sell a panel forming bag ,generally made from leather or some other strong materiel and its usually filled with sand or lead shot, they also sell non marring forming mallets.
It can be done if your inventive in forming the metal to fit on just about anything.
So form the panel up, using steel poprivets and appropriate sized drill apply the panel bonder then pop rivet the panel in and smear around over the seam and over the rivets.
For smaller patches it works very well. In a hidden area you dont need to flange or tack weld at all as long as its not structural like say a rocker panel or other places that are part of the "framing" .
I helped a guy repair rusted rockers on his 99 Regal when I owned my own 98.
We found parts on ebay and he got them then removed the body cladding and we started cleaning it up. We just removed rusted edges ,didnt cut complete panel out.
When we put this up we found it actually fit pretty well, then we use 2" rolocs in 36/50 grit to rough up pinch weld area, we did drill 3 or 4 holes to align it and hold it in place.
My friend found end runs and such ofthe 08115 bonder packs off ebay with gun and mixing tips.
Bought several cheap thin metal putty knives.
After we cleaned up rust holes, made sure there was no damage under car in floor side of rocker panel, we then found place for several drain holes with plugs made from stuff from hardware store.
We made drain holes to let it drain better.
Any way I loaded up my mig welder and we drilled several 3/8 holes in pinch weld side.
So after fitting it up well we cracked open the panel bonder and dug out the pop rivets and applied materiel and pop rivet it in place and then cleaned out the weld holes then welded then smeared the bonder over it.
After it set up we sanded it down and hit it with truck bed liner.
He then took it to local guy who has several large containers of the old Rusty Jones rust proofer. Its more of a waxy product that stayed greasy, it didnt dry out.
I used to apply this product back in the late 80s at local Ford dealer.


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