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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Does anyone have any experience with turning off or disconnecting the knee driver's side airbag?

My boyfriend's legs are paralysed, and he normally drives with a hand control that attaches to the gas/brake petals. When we called the shop to ask about prices for installing the hand control, they said that there's a safety issue with the knee airbag. Basically, if it deploys, it will

a.) Slam the metal rod of the hand control into the drivers knees
b.) Potentially push the hand control so that it "floors" the gas, and slams the car into whatever is in front of it.

The shop said that because of the integration of the airbags with the computer, it would cost about 2K to disable, in addition to the relatively reasonable cost of installing the hand controls. When I tried calling the service dept. at the dealership, they gave me the run around.

I can see that installing airbags would cost a lot, but it seems absurd to spend that much to disable them. Any ideas.

BTW, the car is supposed to be in the dealership on Friday, but if we can't figure out a way to disable the airbag and install hand controls for under 1K, we're going to have to ask them to let us out of the contract, which would really suck. We spend forever at dealerships looking at different cars, and kept coming back to the tC as both the car we *wanted* and one of the few that allows him to manage getting his wheelchair in and out of the car independantly (no assistant or unsightlly pulley system required). But the extra cash is not in the budget right now.

Thanks for any thoughts you have.
 

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Hmm... does the dealership know of the issue? I don't know about your specific state... but in Alabama dealers are supposed to pay up to $3000 in enabling a car to be used by those that are handicapped. Don't talk to the service department or that specific dealer, because they only see the dollar signs. I'd strongly suggest you contact Scion corporate and communicate your predicament with them, I'm sure they will be very accomodating (and surprisingly so). Toyota takes care of you guys
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the point. Toyota has a national program where they will reimbuse for up to $1000 worth of accessibility equipment, which we are taking advantage of.

I'll try calling higher up in the company, it's a reasonable thought.

Mostly though, we're moderately technically savy, and installed a few things in our Civic that required figuring out the wiring. It seems like there should be a way we can disconnect the airbag ourselves, or if we do it right and install a kill switch, it shouldn't cost 2 grand.
 

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These cars use a drive by wire accelerator. There is no mechanical cable from the gas pedal to the engine.

Since the gas pedal is just a glorified potentiometer, you only need to run a wire to the hand pedal and connect an adjustable trigger. Rather than a mechanical arm, the accelerator could be a simple trigger much like on slot cars that many of us used as kids. As for the brake pedal, that would be the only real mechanical device he would need to connect to with an arm. Running a pair of wires to the hand pedal couldn't possibly 'floor it' in an emergency since he can remove his finger from the trigger.

You should be able to route it around any airbags, etc. It is also possible to just put a sharp object on the back of the arm so that it punctures the airbag if it should ever deploy preventing it from causing too much jarring or kick back.

You may not even need to disable the airbag since using the drive by wire system would be easier to control anyway. There are so many options available to give him comfortable throttle control without putting an arm to the gas pedal.

If and when you get it all set up, I would love to see pics and diagrams.
 

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That would be an interesting and fun project IMO. I've thought about relocating the accelerator for exactly the reasons you mentioned: it's just a dual gang pot, and it can be moved anywhere in the car without any problems at all.

I think you need to find someone a little more clever about hand controls than your current vendor. They're making some bad assumptions about how it has to work.

AFA the SRS, if you disconnect the knee bag, you need to have some kind of shunt in place or the SRS computer will see the disconnected squib as a wire fault and it will disable all the airbags from deploying. Some people think this is a negative, and most insurance companies are on this side of the fence (not me, but that's a different story). However, as krzy says, it might be very possible to configure hand controls so they don't interfere with the knee bag at all, and it is undoubtedly simple to avoid the throttle issues your current control vendor is describing.
 

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http://www.airbagonoff.com/

This switch I would think would disable the airbags, since it is all hooked up to the same spot. That way with the switch you can turn the airbag on and off. Scion should help you get this switch installed. At a resonable cost. It's not a hard procedure I am sure.

Good luck on your search!

Michael
 

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Nice link! Needless to say, I agree with having an option on airbags. I saw what they did to my ex when she totalled my first Supra. It wasn't pretty, and it surely wasn't necessary to protect her from injury. Given the choice, I'd remove them from everything I own.
 

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I have removed the airbags from all my cars for the last ten years or so, including all of them from my tC;)

Before doing so I always check with the state insurance commisioner, my insurance company, etc. It has never effected my rates either way.

I did forget to check OR laws and need to since my car is registered in our new location now even though we are not there yet.

Rick
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the help everyone. Especially the point about the drive by wire accelorator, something I'd never heard about, and am asking the mechanic to look into.
 
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