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3 ON YOUR SIDE

Cleveland woman wants answers after airbags deploy without warning

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CLEVELAND, TN (WRCB) -

A Cleveland woman wants answers because her side airbags deployed without warning while she was driving.

Mary Jo Wolfe has been trying to get someone to listen to her for the past three months. She said neither her insurance company nor the automaker will help, so she reached out to 3 On Your Side.

Wolfe's 2004 Ford Explorer has been sitting in her driveway for three months. She can't drive it, since the night her airbags deployed without warning.

"I thought somebody shot something," Wolfe said.

She was driving down Stuart Road in Cleveland and about to stop at a red light.

"All of a sudden, all of my side airbags all deployed," Wolfe remembered. "I was deaf in one ear."

She managed to pull over and is thankful that no one was hurt.

"It could have caused an accident where I ran into somebody else. It's a blessing that I maintained control," Wolfe said.

But because she didn't crash, insurance won't cover it.

Wolfe's dealership told her the airbags deployed because the vehicle's sensors malfunctioned. But, because the now 12-year-old Ford Explorer has 124,000 miles on it, it's no longer covered under the manufacturer's warranty.

A letter from Ford corporate said, "There are no warranties, recalls or other programs that would provide coverage."

Wolfe wondered, "How many other people are out there in the same boat?"

Channel 3 found at least 26 complaints, all describing sudden airbag deployment in older Ford Explorers, sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

But, records show no recalls because it rarely results in serious injuries or death.

Wolfe said she just wants her SUV fixed and someone to take responsibility.

"Are they not liable for my airbags?" asked Wolfe. "Who is?"

Product safety experts say sudden airbag deployment is relatively common, especially in older vehicles.

The problem has spanned nearly all major automakers.

Stay with WRCBtv.com as 3 On Your Side Continues to investigate.

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