Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: What will set off the airbags?

asked by on

What will set off the airbags?

The airbags are made to inflate in the case of a crash, but how severe of a crash does it take to deploy the airbags? This is a fairly common question, but doesn’t quite capture the complexity involved in the safety systems found in modern vehicles. There are a number of factors that contribute to the airbags inflating:

  • Direction: The airbags found in the vehicle are designed to assist the occupants in a front impact. If the truck is rear-ended or rolled over, the airbags will not go off. A side impact will set off the optional side airbags if the force is strong enough.

  • Speed: Low-speed crashes may not set off the airbags.

  • Angle: If the angle of the vehicle is not straight-on then it will influence which airbags ultimately go off. If the impact happens at the front driver side corner, then the passenger side airbags and possibly the passenger front airbag will not inflate.

  • Force from impact: A crash is not just about the speed of the vehicle, the amount of force the object the vehicle hits absorbs is also a big factor. A hypothetical “immovable object” will make the vehicle experience all of the force from the crash all at once, so the airbags are very likely to go off if the vehicle impacts a wall or other hard, sturdy object. On the opposite end of that spectrum, hitting something that will make the vehicle slow gradually will not set off the airbags. For instance, if the vehicle loses control and rolls onto a soft shoulder it may be stopped by mud or gravel.

Tip

Even in a low-speed crash, the seat belts, airbags, and any other safety equipment should be inspected afterwards to ensure that they were not damaged.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

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

Q: What does the High Coolant Temperature message mean?

The High Coolant Temperature message can appear on your driver information center (DIC) when the temperature of the coolant is too high.

Q: What is the side air bag cutoff system?

The side air bag cutoff system is designed to help keep the front passenger safe. This system controls whether or not the passenger side air bag is turned on, based on the height of the passenger in the seat, and...

Q: Where should I place the child restraint systems?

It’s always best to put the child restraint systems in the rear seats. However, if you have to put a child restraint system in the front passenger seat, make sure that it’s not a rear-facing restraint. A rear-facing restraint in...

Related articles

Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...
How Much Does a Mechanic Make in Vermont?
Automotive technician jobs in Vermont have an average mechanic salary of $37k, with some mechanics earning a salary of $53k.