Dear Car Coach: I have 2007 Mazda6 and the “air bag light” stays on. I want it to be off so what should I do? – B.R., Buffalo
Dear B.R.: The airbag warning light should only stay on when there’s a problem with the airbag system in the car. Every time you turn on the car, the computer in the vehicle checks the system. The light comes on for a few seconds and then goes off to show that it’s working. If it remains on, then there’s a problem with the system, and the airbag may not deploy in an accident. The airbag light in your car potentially indicates a few different things.
There’s no quick and easy way to troubleshoot the problem of an airbag warning light. Much like the Check Engine light, it should not be ignored and needs to be looked at by a professional. In this case the mechanic will run a diagnostic on the airbag electronic control unit or ECU. This is where all the data is stored.
The best thing to do if your airbag light has come on is to take the vehicle to a mechanic right away. A mechanic can help you to deal with the airbag light by examining the system with the help of the car diagnostic internal system. He will then adjust the airbag sensor or determine what else may be the problem with the airbag system.
If you are in an accident, and the airbag light is on, it means that the airbag will not deploy. This is a dangerous proposition, and it means that you should avoid driving if at all possible in that vehicle.
Dear Car Coach: I just read that New Jersey was enacting a rule about traveling with pets, I don’t think it went through but was hoping you could help me with what is smart and safe for all animals. I wanted to take our dog and cat to my Mom’s for the holidays. – A.K., Lockport
Dear A.K.: You’re right. The New Jersey law did not go through, However, traveling with your pets can be stressful, both for you and your animals. With thoughtful preparation, you can ensure a safe and comfortable trip for everyone.
Traveling with a pet involves more than just loading the animal in the back seat and motoring off — especially if you will be driving long distances or plan to be away for a long time. Here are some tips to help you prepare for a safe and smooth car trip:
• Keep your pets safe and secure in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. There are a variety of wire mesh, hard plastic and soft-sided carriers available. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in. It’s smart to get your pet used to the carrier in the comfort of your home before your trip.
• Get your pet geared up for a long trip by taking him on a series of short drives first, gradually lengthening time spent in the car and be sure to always secure the crate with seat belts so it won’t slide or shift in the event of a quick stop.
• Never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle. On a hot day, even with the windows open, a parked automobile can become a furnace in no time, and animals can suffer heatstroke. In cold weather, a car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death. • Bring a pet traveling kit, which can include travel papers, food, bowl, leash, a waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies, medication and a pet first-aid kit. Include a favorite toy or pillow to give your pet a sense of security.
• Don’t allow your pet to ride with his head out the window. They could be injured by flying objects. Also keep animals in the back seat in their crate or with a harness attached to a seat buckle. You can purchase pet seat belts at all local pet stores.
• If you’re traveling across state lines or into Canada, bring along your pet’s rabies vaccination record, as some states require this proof at certain crossings. While this generally isn’t a problem, it’s always smart to be on the safe side.
• Airbags deployed in the front seat could harm your pet. An unrestricted pet will be thrown about and possibly injured, or injure a passenger during panic braking or in a collision. Pets should be restrained in the rear seat in pet harnesses or pet carriers that are secured by seat belts.
• Don’t let your cat or dog run around in the car. It’s dangerous for both of you. Cats who don’t like the car may go berserk and try to claw their way out, or claw at you, or at the very worst, climb under your pedals. Always crate cats and place the crate on the rear floor.