Do airbags need to be replaced?

Do airbags need to be replaced?

It takes approx. 4 minutes to read this article

Airbags are one of the most important elements responsible for safety in the car. However, sometimes we pay too little attention to them and do not care about their quality. Should they be replaced?

How do airbags work?

Airbags work as a combination of three components:

  • an activation system (crash sensor, acceleration sensor, microprocessor system),
  • a gas generator consisting of an igniter and solid fuel,
  • a container, or cushion, made of a flexible material (often nylon/cotton or rubber-impregnated polyamide).

The scheme of operation of the airbag is relatively simple: fractions of a second after the impact, a signal is sent to the gas generator and the inflation of the airbag begins. Within 40 milliseconds of the event, the airbag must be inflated to cushion the impact of the driver’s body. It is not hard to imagine that without the introduction of airbags and seatbelts, road fatalities would be much higher.

Airbags have undergone a major metamorphosis in their more than 40 years of service in mass-produced cars. Initially protecting only the driver’s head, they have become very common in the last 25 years or so and are now a standard feature in cars – not only in the top range, but also in cheaper models. Today cars are also equipped with knee airbags or airbags protecting the passenger sitting in the middle rear seat. Caring for safety has become one of the priorities in modern motoring.

Replacement of airbags

The question of whether airbags need to be replaced raises another one: how long do these systems last? Can they fail in an emergency in older cars? If so, which system component is most susceptible to failure? As a rule, the following potential failures are mentioned:

  • the bag, from which the cushion is made, may become frayed over time,
  • the activation system may fail,
  • the gas generator may have a limited life span.

In practice, the service life of even very aged airbags is estimated to be quite long. During testing, relatively few (single cases out of 100 trials) tests result in a situation where the air bag does not work. In the past, information was posted suggesting that the air bag be replaced after a certain period of use of the car, usually 10 or 15 years. Today, this is not practiced according to the view that they are more durable than the car itself. However, you can only be absolutely sure that the air bag will work in accident-free cars that are less than 10 years old. Nevertheless, in older vehicles the probability of their proper functioning is still high.

When is it worth replacing the air bag?

There are situations when it is worth replacing the airbags in an older car. One reason is the prolonged exposure of the car to moisture. Similarly, when the car was flooded or previously subjected to amateur repairs, or alterations, about which we have no information or it is doubtful. In such cases, with a view to the safety of themselves and passengers should replace this important element responsible for safety.

Airbag replacement after a gunshot: cost

Of course, it may be necessary to replace the airbag. This is especially true after an accident. Moreover, every time the red light of the airbag comes on, we should go to a mechanic. The most we will pay for replacement of the equipment protecting the driver’s head – even in the case of cheap in exploitation models it can cost 700 PLN. For passenger airbags you will pay about 200 zł less. In some models, however, prices for this type of repair can be much higher. It is important how the air bag system is placed in the car: in the case of a car with a uniform dashboard, opening of the air bag is possible due to its rupture. It is then necessary to labor-intensive complete replacement of this element. All this generates costs.

The catch: Are you worried about whether your car’s airbag will deploy at a critical moment? Find out if and when you should replace it

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