Can I replace the airbags myself?

A Deployed Air Bag

Airbags for vehicles were introduced in the 1970s and were only found in high-end vehicles. It would be 1998 before it became required by federal law for all cars to have them installed at the factory on the driver and passenger sides. And today, if you’re driving a car made after 1998 and the airbags deploy for any reason, you are responsible for airbag replacement

Why are airbags considered to be an important safety feature?

It has been determined after studies by the NHTSA, (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), and the insurance industry that when combined with seat belts, airbags are a lifesaving measure. Between the years 1987 and 2017, over 50,000 lives were saved by front airbags deployed during moderate to severe wrecks. For wrecks at this level, air bag replacement isn’t possible, which results in the vehicle being totaled. 

How do airbags help the driver and passengers? 

Airbags minimize the possibility of the upper body or head being struck inside the vehicle during a wreck. When using the seatbelt, as is the law in Lombard, Illinois, and in all other states except New Hampshire, the chances of airbag-related injuries are minimized. 

How much does airbag replacement cost?

On average, airbag replacement costs can start around $1,000 and go ward to $5,000. The factors that have an impact on the cost of airbag replacement include: 

  • The make, model, and year of the vehicle
  • The location of the airbag replacement 
  • The extent of damage to the airbag and surrounding area

Airbag replacements are done by a certified mechanic, which charges in the area of $100/per hour and upward, in addition to the base air bag replacement charge. 

Can airbag replacement be a DIY project? 

The high cost of airbag replacement is a sticker shock for sure, but no, this is not a DIY project. Airbag replacement must be done by a certified mechanic or technician. Why can’t you do your airbag replacement? There are specialized tools and procedures for this, beginning with removing the deployed airbag without damaging other parts of the vehicle. 

Take the time to review your vehicle insurance policy now before you need to file a claim and confirm that the cost of airbag replacement is covered. It is rarely unlikely that it wouldn’t be the cost of airbag replacement is often a deciding factor for an insurance company to declare a vehicle is totaled.

So, is it not worthwhile having a deployed airbag replacement done? 

It will depend on how severe the damage around the airbag and the airbag sensors are, along with the amount of other damage to the vehicle. But airbag replacement isn’t always required after an accident. Sometimes the mechanic or technician can reset the airbags and airbag sensors. 

Can you drive a vehicle with the airbags deployed?

In most cases, a vehicle is still drivable with deployed airbags and there isn’t any law prohibiting driving a vehicle without airbags. However, as safety technology improves, car manufacturers have designed vehicles involved in an accident for the engine to shut off and not start. 

One reason for this is to prevent a fire starting from any possible fuel leaks. However, a vehicle without airbags will not pass a state safety inspection, making the vehicle illegal to operate until air bag replacement has been completed by a certified mechanic or technician.

At what speed do airbags deploy?

Today, vehicles are manufactured so that the airbag protection of the drivers and passengers is improved when seatbelts are used. The front airbag will deploy for unbelted occupants upon impact at speeds between 10 and 12 miles per hour. For occupants using seatbelts, an impact at a higher speed, around 16 miles per hour, the airbags will deploy.  

What is the impact of airbags deploying? 

It takes between 20 and 30 milliseconds for an airbag to deploy inside a vehicle cabin that measures 2.5 cubic feet. So, an unbelted driver will inflate on an average of 23 milliseconds when the rate of driving speed is at 30 mph. 

The technology of airbags has advanced over the years. Today there are airbags with multistage development that adjust the inflation speed and pressure to match the occupant’s size. Sensors are installed that read the seat’s position and the weight of the occupant, and if the seatbelt or child safety seats are in place. This technology, unfortunately, has increased the cost of airbag replacements.

Are all airbags the same size in a vehicle? 

No, the driver’s airbag is smaller than the passenger airbag.  because there is less space before the driver is hurled into the steering wheel versus the front passenger being hurled into the dashboard. However, after any accident, both sides should be inspected for needing airbag replacement. 

What is inside airbags? 

When you’re involved in an accident, the impact will tighten the seatbelt, and the airbag will deploy that is filled with nitrogen gas. This is an expensive and hazardous compound that vehicle manufacturers have been working to replace since the introduction of airbags and airbag replacement.

Over the years, the chemistry has evolved that inflates deployed airbags. Vehicle manufacturers are constantly looking for a more efficient yet less expensive and less hazardous compound. 

Keeping You Safe

While airbags and seatbelts can be aggravating for many drivers, the results of over 50,000 lives being saved between 1987 and 2017 should be convinced of the importance of airbag replacement.