Q: If I modify my truck, will that affect how well the airbags and other safety gear work?

asked by on December 15, 2015

If I modify my truck, will that affect how well the airbags and other safety gear work?

There are a number of ways for people to modify their trucks. Sometimes it is for utility reasons, like adding a snow plow. Other times the vehicle may be lifted to fit larger tires for better ground clearance. Here’s how modifications might affect the airbags and safety systems in the vehicle:

  • In the interior, modifications can very easily interfere with how the safety systems operate.

  • Avoid anything that clips onto or holds back the seat belt unless it is an OEM seat belt clip.

  • Do not add anything to a panel in the interior that has an airbag underneath. This happens often with GPS units on the dashboard.

  • If there is anything like a massage seat or other seat cover on the passenger seat, make sure the sensors that activate the passenger side airbag when the seat is occupied are working still. The passenger airbag indicator, located in front of the rear-view mirror, should read “On” when an adult is seated in the front passenger seat.

  • Wiring things like TV screens or stereo amplifiers into the vehicle, if done improperly, could have a negative effect on the wiring in the airbag system.

  • Modifications for the vehicle to accommodate the needs of handicapped motorists should be performed in accordance with the manufacturer’s suggestions to ensure proper modification and safe driving.

  • On the Exterior, large running boards or fender flares might have an effect on the sensitivity of the sensors along the side of the vehicle. Aftermarket hoods or bumpers could have a similar effect on the front airbags.

  • Snow plows are an exception to the rule here, as a snow plow package is available from the factory to ensure the airbags work when a snowplow is equipped.

  • Under the truck, the airbag system could be affected by modifying either the suspension or the frame itself. Any increase in height may reduce the effectiveness of sensors in the vehicle meant to keep the airbags deploying when they should.

Tip

When in doubt, contact the manufacturer or a qualified mechanic to oversee any modifications to ensure the proper functioning of safety gear.

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