Accidental Airbag Deployment

by : dennis james

Airbags are one of the most important inventions when it comes to car safety in case of an accident. These inflatable bags are meant to prevent the driver's and the passenger's bodies from hitting the dashboard and the steering when an accident occurs.

Nevertheless, even if airbags have saved many lives over the years, the system is not perfect and there have been numerous cases in which accidental airbag deployment has caused more harm than good and injured severely the passengers.

Modern cars are more and more complex and have tens or even hundreds or onboard computers. However, with the increase of the number of electronic devices inside a car, the chances that something might go wrong increase greatly.

The main causes for accidental airbag deployment are human error or problems within the system, but in both cases the results can be quite severe. There are several ways to deactivate the airbags. You need to disconnect the battery for 10 to 20 minutes so the airbag's back-up battery is depleted too.

Airbag manufacturers include a back-up battery with their systems so the airbag would deploy even if the car's battery is damaged in a crash. The situation is more complicated with hybrid cars, that store great amounts of electricity on board and deactivating the airbags in a hybrid car should only be done in specialized shops.

When airbags are developed, they are meant to deploy after the on board computer calculates a series of forces, such as the inertial and gravitational force as well as decelerating speeds.

If any of the pre-established conditions are not met, the airbags will not deploy. Installing after market equipment on your car can interfere with the airbag's proper deployment method. Al the cars' buyer's guides will tell you to leave free the zone in front of the airbag, but there are people that install other objects in this area, such as mobile phone chargers and supports, i-pod docking stations or other such objects that will be in the airbag's way in case of an accident.

In more rare cases, the owner has performed a series of electrical modifications to the car's system that have interfered with the airbag's deployment mechanism. These are the main reasons that are catalogued as human involvement to accidental airbag deployment. There can also be manufacturer defects that can prevent the airbags from deploying correctly. Any serious repair shops can tell you after a computerized test if the airbag system is working correctly.

Finally, an airbag can deploy accidentally due to environmental conditions, such as operating the car in very wet or very dusty conditions for a long time. There are a series of tips that should be respected if you want to maintain your car's airbag system. First, if you need to do any kind of electrical operation, never work on the car unless you have disconnected the battery. If you ever need to deactivate the airbags, follow exactly the manufacturer's indications or go to a specialized shop. They will be able to re-connect it again and to assure you the airbag system will work properly in the future. When replacing any parts on the car, always use new and sealed factory parts. These parts have a warranty and you can be sure they are not old, rusted or defective.