Facts About Airbags

Some helpful facts about airbags. A brief history of the available systems but more importantly what to do after an airbag deployment from an auto repair point of view. A quick education can help assure that after the repairs are completed your airbag is ready to deploy as per design intent.

Picture of daul airbags

Daul Airbags
As you might know an airbag is much like a heavy-duty plastic balloon that inflates fully within fractions of a second during a collision. A deployed airbag protects the driver or passengers from injury by limiting and cushioning movement during a crash.

One of the biggest things to remember is that the airbag was designed to be used in conjunction with a seat-belt. The seatbelt holds the person in place so that the airbag provides maximum protection.

These restraint systems have been around for quite some time and therefore vary greatly in the types of technology they use to deploy the bag.

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Also when airbags started to be used back in the late 80s they where only placed in front of the driver and mounted on the steering wheel.

Nowadays these supplemental inflatable restraint systems will include side and passenger deployment systems to protect many if not all passengers. Even the driver side airbag in most cases now has an added knee diverter or sometimes referred to as the knee bolster bag.

Airbag safety and service

Picture of deployed airbag

Deployed Airbag
Now that we have a brief review of the overall airbag picture let’s talk about what to do after a collision when it comes time to replace the deployed units to assure that they are ready to do their job again once all vehicle repairs are completed.

It is highly recommended to replace airbag system components with original equipment manufactured replacement parts. Aftermarket parts may appear to be less expensive and yet interchangeable, but internal differences may result in inferior occupant protection.

The factory installed fasteners, screws and bolts used to fasten airbag components have a special coating and are specifically designed for the airbag system. Your body shop should use the specialized fasteners and they should not be substituted for regular or standard grade fasteners.

Picture of air bag deployed

Air bag deployed
You should make your body shop aware that you expect all of your airbag components to be replaced with brand-new parts that were made by the vehicle’s original manufacturer.

Failure to make your shop clear on this might make them think its okay to use recovered junkyard parts or less expensive and possibly inferior aftermarket airbag parts.

As part of the repair process an interior detail is usually performed and is recommended before the family begins to use the vehicle as usual. The Powder residue emitted from a deployed airbag can cause skin and sinus irritation. This is especially true for people that are sensitive to airborne irritants.

When you get back in your vehicle and turn the key from the off to the run position your airbag or SRS light should light up maybe even flash and then go out. This is a bulb check and a self-diagnostic routine that is performed by the body computer.

If there are any problems with the supplemental inflatable restraint system the indicator light may show a malfunction by staying on. You can visit my other website Auto-Facts.org for more information about airbag warning lights.

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