Q: What determines if the air bags will deploy or not?

asked by on December 14, 2015

What determines if the air bags will deploy or not?

While it might seem like your air bags should deploy during every accident, that’s actually not the case. Some aren’t severe enough to warrant it, while in other situations, deploying the air bags might actually cause injury if someone isn’t properly seated in the car.

Your air bag system is monitored and controlled by the computer and a network of sensors. The sensors read the severity and location of an impact and then send that information to the computer. The computer then determines if the criteria warrant deploying the air bags. There are a couple of other things that you should know here, as well:

  • You must be going faster than 12 – 18 MPH for any air bag to deploy. If you’re driving slower than this, the air bags will not inflate.

  • Even if the air bags are not inflated, it’s possible that your seat belt pretensioners will be activated. Have your belts inspected after every collision.

  • If there isn’t a passenger sitting in the front seat, the passenger front air bag will not inflate. It also won’t inflate if the passenger is not adult sized (a child, for instance).

  • Side and side curtain air bags only deploy in some side impact situations (the collision has to have sufficient force to trigger the system).

  • The side curtain air bags should deploy in a rollover situation.

  • The front air bags may inflate if your car strikes something severely with the undercarriage.

  • Some angled front impacts may not set off any air bags.

Tips

  • If an air bag has been deployed, it must be replaced. They cannot be reused.

  • Never attempt to replace an air bag on your own.

  • Never rely on the air bags alone. Always wear your seat belt and make sure everyone in the vehicle is wearing theirs.

  • Always have your seat belts inspected after an accident to determine if the pretensioners were deployed (even if the air bags didn’t go off).

Was this answer helpful?
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

How do I turn on or off the Eco Driving Indicator Light on?

You may want to turn on the Eco Driving Indicator Light to help you determine how economically you’re driving. Locate the Eco Driving Indicator Light on the right side of the instrument panel. Press down on the button to...

My car is overheating, what could be the cause?

This can be caused by a number of things, such as low coolant levels, a faulty thermostat, or a failing coolant fan switch. As you may know, the coolant fan switch helps to maintain the proper coolant temperature by turning...

How do I adjust the power driver’s seat?

The power driver’s seat is adjusted with the three power seat controls, which are on the outboard side of the seat. The seats can be adjusted in five different ways: You can adjust the position of the seat with...

Related articles

A Buyer’s Guide to the 2012 Audi A7
In In true Audi fashion, the 2012 A7 delivers the exceptional performance, enjoyable handling and luxurious interior you’ve come to expect. However, they also combined those things with an innovative four-door coupe hatchback design that is anything but ordinary. ...
2012 Chevrolet Impala vs. 2012 Toyota Camry: Which One Should I Buy?
In the battle for the family vehicle, the 4-door sedan is a strong contender that just continues to be a viable option even with the rise of the crossover SUV and the popularity of passenger vans. These sedans offer a...
A Buyer’s Guide to the 2012 Toyota Tundra
While While Toyota hasn’t been in the business of manufacturing larger pickup trucks as long as the likes of Ford, Chevy, and Dodge, the Tundra is most definitely a force to be reckoned with. This full-sized pickup has comparable payload,...