What to do if your airbags deploy

Airbags are there for your safety, and an airbag going off is the sign that you’ve been in a fairly hefty incident – but what do you do if you’ve been subjected to that kind of impact and what does it mean for your car? Scrap Car Comparison is here to guide you through all you need to know about airbags, how they work and what to do if yours have deployed.

Airbag deployment usually means heavy damage, and heavy damage usually means that repairing or selling can be arduous ordeals, and that’s where we at Scrap Car Comparison come in. We specialise in cars that are a little worse for wear, and we can guarantee you the very best price for your beat up set of wheels, no matter where you live. All it takes is one phone call to our friendly, knowledgeable team and we’ll get quotes from your area in a matter of moments.

Car with a deployed steering wheel airbag

What are airbags and what do they do?

An airbag is an inflatable cushion that deploys when your car is subjected to a heavy impact, protecting you from further injury by providing something softer than your car’s trim, wheel or bodywork for you to hit. Statistics provided by the American government suggest that over 50,000 lives had been saved by airbags by the end of 2017, and that the devices had helped reduce driver fatalities by 29%.

How do airbags work? 

When your car is in a crash, sensors will work out the severity of the impact, and if it’s registered as high enough, a small explosive device will detonate and fill the airbag with, well, air. Modern technology allows some airbags to only fill with the amount of air required of the size of impact endured, so it won’t fully deploy in the event of a smaller bump. 

Why do airbags deploy?

Airbags deploy to protect the occupants of a car in the event of a crash. By producing an instant inflatable cushion, it prevents the driver or passengers from hitting a hard surface. As a result, airbags can prevent serious injury, or even death, from occurring.

Where can you find airbags in the car

The most well known places to find airbags are on the steering wheel, but they aren’t a one-trick pony, and there are different styles for different locations.

  • Frontal. The ‘OG’, as it were, found in the steering wheel and the dashboard in front of the passenger’s seat
  • Knee. Found underneath the steering column for drivers and at knee height of the dashboard for passengers
  • Side. Found in the doors if there is a side-on collision.
  • Centre. Inflates between the front two seats to prevent head collisions between driver and passenger, also known as ‘far-side’ airbags.
  • Curtain. Found in the roof or headliner above doors and windows to protect your head. 
  • Seatbelt. Provides extra protection for occupant’s torso – these are less common than many others.

What happens when airbags deploy? [and how can this cause damage to your car]

As previously explained, a small explosion occurs and a chemical reaction fills the airbag with gas. The bag then immediately deflates to maximise your vision and allow you to get out of the car easier. It’s also worth noting that due to the way airbags deploy, it can be a very pricey job to fix them – and when you factor in the additional repair costs that will likely have come from the crash itself, more often than not a car will be written-off after airbag deployment.

What should I do if my vehicle’s airbag deploys? [step by step bullet points for if in a collision/generally]

There’s a high chance that if your airbag has deployed, then there has been a fairly significant impact beforehand, so this guide applies not only to airbag deployment, but also general collisions.

  • Make sure your engine is off – although in some vehicles this will be an automatic process – particularly if there has been an impact towards the engine bay. This will minimise the likelihood of fires from potential fuel leaks.
  • Call the emergency services, and if necessary, seek medical attention.
  • Do not drive the vehicle away from the scene
  • Swap insurance details with the other party in the incident
  • Inform your insurers of the situation, providing a detailed explanation of the damages sustained and the details of the other party.
  • Follow the advice of insurers, or potentially consider insurance buy back if you’re not convinced you’re getting the best deal.

If your airbags deploy, does it invalidate your car insurance?

An airbag deploying in an incident will not invalidate your policy – they are there to protect you, not to catch you out financially or a ploy of insurance agents. However, if you drive knowing that you have a faulty airbag, that could invalidate your policy, especially if it then fails to deploy in an impact.

Can you still drive a car after airbags have deployed?

You should never drive after your car’s airbags have deployed as it could have compromised some of the other safety systems in the car, and also had an impact on the steering due to their location. If the deployment has only just occurred, you may have a slight vision impairment from the smoke and dust created from the explosion required to set them off. It’s also worth noting that any fault in the airbag department will result in an MOT failure.

If your car’s airbags have deployed, or perhaps they’re showing as a fault on your dashboard, then you’ve probably got some serious damage to repair as well. If these repairs are simply far too much to consider for your old car, why not take the easiest option and sell it for scrap? By using Scrap Car Comparison you’re guaranteed to get the very best price, and with agents working across the country, we can even offer free collection to 99% of all UK postcodes. Get started today to see just how much your car could be worth.

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