Driver And Driving

Can Airbags Be Replaced After An Accident?

Mike Cross
Updated Sep 2, 2021

Perhaps one of the best inventions for cars and passengers has been the airbag. This amazing technology has saved lives and helped to reduce injuries in motor vehicle accidents.  Hopefully you will never have need of them, but they are always there for you -every time you get behind the wheel.

But what happens if you are unfortunately in an accident? Hopefully you are ok and so are your passengers. But now you need to have your car repaired. Or maybe it was just a small fender bender. In any case, if your airbag was deployed, what can be done?

Can Airbags be replaced after an accident

How does a car airbag system work?

The main objective of an airbag is to slow down the passenger’s forward motion in the event of a collision as evenly and as quickly as possible. Ideally this happens in seconds. There are actually 3 parts to an airbag system that help accomplish this crucial safety feature.

  1. The airbag is made from a very thin, nylon fabric. This nylon fabric is then folded into the dashboard, steering wheel, or door panels.
  2. There is a sensor in place that will tell the airbag when it should deploy. This is set to happen when there is a collision with a force equal to running into a brick wall at about 10 miles an hour. A mechanical switch is then activated when there is a mass shift that closes an electrical contact. This signals the sensor that a crash has happened. The sensors get this information from an accelerometer that is built in to a microchip.
  3. The car’s airbag system inflates when it reacts with sodium and potassium to produce nitrogen gas.

What happens after your airbags are deployed

Airbags are deployed

If you do have an accident, there are a few steps to take. First, check for injuries and call for help from the police and 911. Make sure that your car’s engine is turned off. Most likely you might need to have your car towed to a mechanic.

If your car’s airbags have deployed, it is a common misconception that your car is automatically totaled. There are actually three options for determining what happens to your car next. You will need to have your insurance company representative and mechanic look at the car to decide the best course of action.

The three possibilities for a car with deployed airbags

1.Sometimes the car is totaled.

This is not necessarily because the airbag was deployed, but because of the cost involved in resetting it or replacing it. This is a decision your insurance adjuster will make and it takes into account how old your car is, how much any other repairs might cost and how much your car is worth.

2.Sometimes a deployed airbag can actually be reset.

If there has not been any damage to the airbag, some makes and models of car will allow for it to be reset back into its module and then the mechanic will have to reset the sensors.  This needs to be done by an auto mechanic to ensure it is done properly. Your safety is priceless.

3.And there are instances when a deployed airbag can be replaced.

This means that the used airbag is removed and a brand new one is installed. A mechanic will have to do this for you. It will involve placing a new airbag into the module and making sure the sensors are reset.

How much does it cost to have the airbags replaced?

If your car’s airbag has deployed and it is decided that it is safe to replace it, the average cost is between $3000 to $5000, per airbag.

This price can vary. Just remember that you are not simply having the nylon airbag replaced. You are having the nylon replaced, you are having any storage modules repaired, the sensors are replaced and you will need to have the system recalibrated. Where the airbag is located in your car is another factor in the total price of replacement. Some modules are easier to get to than others.

What are some other reasons why my airbag needs to be replaced?

Being in an accident is just one reason why your airbag may deploy and need to be repaired or replaced. There are some other reasons why this could happen as well.

1. Your airbag may need to be replaced due to a recall from the manufacturer.

In this case the manufacturer may have noticed an issue with some part of your vehicle’s airbag system. They will send you a recall notice instructing you on how to get your airbags updated and replaced. This usually happens at no cost to you. Be sure to follow the recall instructions as soon as possible.

2. There may be a problem with some of the parts in the airbag system.

Usually you will know there is a problem because the airbag or SRS light will light up on your dashboard. There are many parts of the airbag system that could have a problem. This could be a blown fuse, one of the connectors might have been left disconnected after a repair.  It might also be because of a sensor wire is damaged or there is a short in the wiring.

Final Thoughts

Airbags are an incredible piece of automotive technology. Their use in automobiles have drastically reduced the number of fatalities in auto accidents and they have reduced the severity of injuries. The use of airbags is not something that should be compromised on, ever.

Due to improvements and advancements in technology, a deployed airbag does not necessarily mean your car is totaled. In fact, an insurance adjuster takes several things into account when deciding the fate of a car with a deployed airbag.

Today it is very possible to either repair or replace the deployed airbag. You will need to take your car to a mechanic to have them determine the best course of action. Just remember, your safety and that of your passengers is ultimately the most important.

Mike Cross
Life is too short to drive with stock audio

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