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Old 7th September 2010, 09:30   #1
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Default Air bags in economy cars in India

About 12 years ago, sitting in a Merc, we hit some buffaloes on the Delhi - Karnal road at a fairly high speed. The airbags deployed immediately, buffalos hit bonnet and windscreen, but we were all safe though shaken.

Been following airbags in India, and am glad to see that some of the cars in the lower end of the market also now provide airbags, including some in the below 4 lakh rupee cost range. All good.

But are they working, any feedback?

I have two specific cases with me, don't want to mention the brand names because am told that this is across all brands, where:-

a) Front impact at combined speed estimated at about 50-60 kmph, airbag did not deploy, new generation hatchback, major repairs in the front of both cars. (other one did not have airbags)

b) New generation sedan, best seller in its class, rear ended by an MUV at about 100kmph, total loss, again air bag did not deploy. (MUV did not have airbags)

Casual conversation with some people in the business reveals that this is not unusual - the quality of airbags fitted in the cheaper cars is a factor of lowest cost, not quality. One reason for that is that there appears to be no standards or specs for airbags in India, as yet?

Any comments, views, inputs please? Can we as bhp-india try to promote the concept of airbag standardisation?

Thanks.
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Old 7th September 2010, 10:02   #2
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malq, this is one of the information i am looking for. I am glad that you started it. The reason why i had booked Wagon R ABS is for its safety kit. Now is this something that i should worry about?

Already sometimes I get thoughts what it airbags have deployed and the repair costs!

Its getting more and more difficult now a days to buy a car and then be sure 100 % that i made the right decision.
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Old 7th September 2010, 10:10   #3
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I did not know that airbags can be of different qualities!
I am a survivor of an accident with 6 airbags deployed in a Corolla (guess the car was totaled).

I wish my i10 would save me in the same way.
As for the manufacturers - if they sell the same model of car in India and export them, would they go down to this level as to fit 'substandard' airbags in Indian cars and 'better' ones on export versions?
Also - all those cases of airbags not deploying, were the front seat occupants wearing seat-belts?

Last edited by blackasta : 7th September 2010 at 10:11.
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Old 7th September 2010, 10:19   #4
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How does a cutomer come to know what quality of air bag has been fitted in the car he just brought? Does he get a quality certificate from the manufacturers? I dont think so. Even the customer is not bothered to get these details, he's more than happy in seeing the air bag sign on the steering wheel or on the dashboard. Even helps during re sale when the premium asked for in for the air bags.

It would be the responsibility of the either the manufacturer or the certifying authority to ensure that the quality of the air bags provided do mee the safety standards. it is a known fact that most deaths happen in road accidents in the absence of any life saving devices such as ABS or airbags. Should it be made a norm by the govt in ordering the car manufacturers to provide these safety features in all variants.
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Old 7th September 2010, 10:29   #5
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Also,i guess,Airbags in most cars dont deploy,until seat belts have been worn.
and most people i know,including some in my own family,dont really like to wear seatbelts
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Old 7th September 2010, 10:42   #6
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I think for we should know regarding the type of impact, speed of impact or at what pressure does the airbag deploy. Also what is the cost of its repair & does insurance covers 100% of its repair cost. Depending on this we can decide whether airbags are required in Small cars.

A Tata SS commented that they get maximum insurance claims by Nano owners as most of them are 1st time car owners.
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Old 7th September 2010, 10:48   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akshay4587 View Post
Also,i guess, Airbags in most cars dont deploy,until seat belts have been worn.
I read the same in another thread too. I doubt whether this fact is true. If that's true, then I do wonder why manufacturers provide 'Passenger Airbag Deactivation/Activation switch'.

It makes me puzzled. Can someone throw some light on this. Please

Amith
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Old 7th September 2010, 11:18   #8
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There is a thread which talks about cost incurred when airbags are deployed. The more we read such threads the more the doubt that creeps into one's mind whether one is making the right decision to spend upwards of 50K for getting airbags (a better variant of a car).

I am considering Ritz Zxi (because of airbags and ABS) and I am now wondering whether a i20 Magna (without airbags and ABS) at the same price point makes more sense considering that airbags cannot be completely relied up on.
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Old 7th September 2010, 11:30   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kalpeshc View Post
There is a thread which talks about cost incurred when airbags are deployed. The more we read such threads the more the doubt that creeps into one's mind whether one is making the right decision to spend upwards of 50K for getting airbags (a better variant of a car).

I am considering Ritz Zxi (because of airbags and ABS) and I am now wondering whether a i20 Magna (without airbags and ABS) at the same price point makes more sense considering that airbags cannot be completely relied up on.
Look at this thread
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/street...ence-blvd.html (19 June 2010 - Nightmare on Independence Blvd)

Total cost incurred by me: $0

Airbags, coupled with seatbelts and crumple zones saved me and my passenger from certain death.

What price tag do you put on your life?
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Old 7th September 2010, 11:37   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Klub Class View Post
I read the same in another thread too. I doubt whether this fact is true. If that's true, then I do wonder why manufacturers provide 'Passenger Airbag Deactivation/Activation switch'.

It makes me puzzled. Can someone throw some light on this. Please

Amith
Very good thread malq.

I too have often wondered whether the airbags on Spark, say, are as good as on a City. Because, you may cut costs elsewhere, quality of airbags/crash sensors shouldn't come down. It's a safety feature.

I have a feeling that when airbags didn't deploy in the small car, it was due to cost-cutting on sensors.

As for the sedan, it's inexplicable. Is it that airbags are deployed only when there's a front-end collision? Side & rear collision don't lead to airbags being deployed?

@Amith: Good point. When there's a passenger side airbag act/de-activ button, not wearing seatbelts shouldn't be the reason for airbags not being deployed.
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Old 7th September 2010, 11:53   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackasta View Post
Look at this thread
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/street...ence-blvd.html (19 June 2010 - Nightmare on Independence Blvd)

Total cost incurred by me: $0

Airbags, coupled with seatbelts and crumple zones saved me and my passenger from certain death.

What price tag do you put on your life?
I do understand the need of airbags and ABS (hence my consideration of Ritz Zxi), but then there are cases of airbags deflating in the service center (someone had this experience on the other thread) and now this talk of low quality airbags on lower end cars.

The insurance situation would also be different in India and US right? I am not advocating against ABS and airbags. I just am in two minds and hence the open discussion. Both of them are life savers provided they work as they are expected to.
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Old 7th September 2010, 12:17   #12
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I would like to add a few facts on the airbags in cars.

1. Air bags are basically designed only for certain speeds, 50~60 kmph. Though it is still not 100% safe that a person will survive even at this speed. Because each individual has a trauma criteria (the pain threshold, etc.) which can never be simulated by any test.

2. Air bags need a lot of electronics to be deployed. There are various sensors (i will write about a few). Let us just start with only frontal crash scenarios.

a. Crash sensor - fitted in the front chassis member behind the bumper, it is the primary sensor. This senses the speed of impact and sends appropriate signal to the air bag ECU.

b. Driver position sensor - This one senses the position of the driver seated at the time of impact.

c. Steering displacement sensor - This one calculates amount the steering wheel & column are displaced towards the driver.

d. Air bag ECU - This is the brain. From the varied signals of the sensors, it calculates the exact speed of deployment of the airbag so that the driver inertia is reduced.

All these take place within micro seconds.

3. Wearing seat belts is a must for air bags. Other wise it will result in out of position deployment. This is equally fatal to the occupant.

4. Rear end collisions / Side collisions will not deploy any airbag in the front. In the case of rear ending the occupant is being rolled by his back. These rear ending always result in neck injuries. A good positioned seat head rest is sufficient in most cases.

As for the side impact, the emphasis is on how the seat is pushed towards the interior to avoid major injury to ribs and the pelvic region. Wearing seat belts does not help in this case. Also, the use of side air bags to prevent the occupant from falling outside thro' the side windows is needed.

5. Crash sensors sense the nature of impact the vehicle under goes. As long as the force of the collision is not reaching the sensor, the air bags will not deploy. e.g. the cars bumper is strongly by a hammer, the car hitting a post at speed, the car hitting another vehicle. All these have different signal generation by the sensor.

So, the calibration of the crash sensors is of the prime importance in the entire air bag system.

In case of the budget / low end models hosting air bags, the calibration of the crash sensors is a little debate. Since, in India there is no independent agency like in US or others to test each vehicle, the information mentioned at the start of the thread remains true.

Note that cars in US pass the regulatory carsh requirements. But apat from those, they are rated by the IIHSA by a entirely different set of crash tests. This isolates the best from the rest.
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Old 7th September 2010, 13:03   #13
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Many people say that the airbag will not deploy if we don't wear seat belts.
  • If that's the case then why do car manufacturers explicitly mention the fact 'wearing seat belts is a must for cars with airbag?

PS: My question still remains unanswered. I will be very happy if someone gives me an answer

Amith
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Old 7th September 2010, 13:20   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Klub Class View Post
Many people say that the airbag will not deploy if we don't wear seat belts.
  • If that's the case then why do car manufacturers explicitly mention the fact 'wearing seat belts is a must for cars with airbag?
So that the airbag works and you walk away from the crash.

Last edited by McLaren Rulez : 7th September 2010 at 13:21.
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Old 7th September 2010, 13:22   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Klub Class View Post
I read the same in another thread too. I doubt whether this fact is true. If that's true, then I do wonder why manufacturers provide 'Passenger Airbag Deactivation/Activation switch'.

It makes me puzzled. Can someone throw some light on this. Please

Amith
One of the reason for a passenger side airbag deactivation switch is to disable airbag while using a back facing child seat. While using the seat you still use the seat belts to hold the child seat properly, but then an inflating airbag would be lethal for the baby. Airbag switch will help in such situation
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