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Should You Replace Airbags That Haven't Ever Deployed?

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On: Fri, Aug 2, 2013 at 12:18PM | By: Elizabeth Puckett


Should You Replace Airbags That Haven't Ever Deployed?

Airbags are an odd part of the car. They spend most of the time hidden away until springing into action for a few seconds, and that’s it. Luckily for some drivers, their airbags never have a reason to deploy and so the car’s airbags never see the light of day. So if the airbag never deploys, you can just leave it and forget about it, right? Not true; your airbag might actually be expired!

In the very early days of the airbag, some auto makers called for inspections or replacements of the airbag, but not many auto companies found it necessary. Fast forward a few years and airbags were being made to last the lifetime of the car.

Airbags have actually been around much longer than many realize—since the 1970s—although in the first couple of decades, they were used only in luxury and high-end vehicles. They are now standard equipment on every vehicle.

Because auto makers couldn't determine the lifespan on airbags and the equipment that makes them work, they cautiously estimated one. On models made in the early 1990s, the owner’s manual even recommends that the airbag be inspected by a dealer every 10 years. The visual inspection is to determine that the self-diagnostic functions are working as they should.

Some auto makers took it a bit further and called for replacements after a certain number of years—Mercedes-Benz has been calling for an airbag replacement after 15 years on all of their models until 2002.

On models that do call for a replacement, the owner will have to shell out around $2,000 to make that happen.

So, if you have one of these older models, should you replace the airbag or continue to take your vehicle in for inspection? That’s a tricky question. On many crash tests of vehicles, even those with the earliest model airbags, the airbags deployed just as they should. What you need to ask yourself is if it’s worth the risk. Just like with most things, it’s probably okay to excuse yourself from this automotive chore, but what if you just so happen to have an airbag with components that have worn somehow over time?

Do you need to get your airbag replaced? It’s a pretty conclusive—maybe.

Modern technology has made it possible to produce an airbag that will last the life of the car it’s in, and no inspection or replacements are required unless the airbag is deployed.




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