Dear Tom and Ray:
I have an ‘09 Hyundai Sonata. I finally got around to actually reading through the car manual. It states that covering the front driver or passenger seats with any seat covers will inactivate the air-bag response. But I love my padded car seat — I drive long distances several times a year, and it makes a difference — at my, ahem, age. It also keeps the upholstery cleaner. I called the local Hyundai dealer, and he agreed that seat covers will interfere with the air bags. Is that true? What gives, here? — Maurine
TOM: Yes, it’s true.
RAY: Like most cars these days, your Hyundai has side air bags. Those are built right into the seats.
TOM: So, in an accident with a side impact, the side air bag on the driver’s side would deploy out of the left side of the driver’s seat back — unless you blocked it, for instance, by covering it with a seat cover.
RAY: Luckily for you, Maurine, the American seatcover industry is not sitting still for this. Using good old Yankee ingenuity, the top seat-cover engineers in the world have developed — get this — seat covers that work with side airbags!
TOM: I think they just cut around it or something.
RAY: And if you go online and search “seat covers for side air bags,” you’ll find a number of places that will either sell you or make for you any type of seat cover you want that’s modified to work with side air bags.
TOM: It’s good to be living in 21st-century America, isn’t it?
RAY: And since you obviously love your seat covers (you even took the trouble of writing to a couple of morons like us in hopes of saving them), I think you should treat yourself to a set of the finest, tailor-made sheepskin, side-air-bag-safe seat covers you can find.
TOM: Or, if you have a cat, let it sleep in the driver’s seat. If it’s anything like our cat, within a week you’ll have two inches of plush fur to sit on.
RAY: By the way, we’re impressed that you managed to wait until now to read your ‘09 Hyundai’s owner’s manual. I’m glad we didn’t ruin it for you a few years ago by printing a spoiler and telling you how it ends.
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Do you really need that truck if you only make one trip to the lumberyard per year? Find out what kind of car NOT to get in Tom and Ray’s pamphlet “Should I Buy, Lease, or Steal My Next Car?” Send $4.75 (check or money order) to Next Car, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.
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Get more Click and Clack in their new book, “Ask Click and Clack: Answers from Car Talk.” Got a question about cars? Write to Click and Clack in care of this newspaper, or email them by visiting the Car Talk website at www.cartalk.com.
(c) 2014 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.