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Old 14th November 2014, 13:14   #31
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Default Long Term Reliability Of Airbags In Older Cars

My Honda Civic is almost 8 years old now. All the news reports about exploding (and in many cases, non-deployment) of airbags has me somewhat worried. So did some Google research on long term reliability of airbags in 10+ year old cars. This is what I found -

1) All airbag equipped cars have airbag fault indicator lamp on the dashboard. The car "checks" the airbag system every time you start the car, and if it finds something wrong, the lamp remains lit even after the engine starts.

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2) In the 90s, Japanese car manufacturers recommended getting the airbags visually inspected (and replaced if found faulty) every 10 years. This recommendation has been removed from car manuals in early 2000s.

3) Mercedes declared that airbags in all models manufactured after 1992 will "last the lifetime" of the car.

4) NHTSA crash tested a 1972 Chevrolet Impala (30 years old at the time). This was one of the first 1000 cars to be equipped with airbags by General Motors. Both driver and passenger airbag deployed as intended.

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Image for pictorial representation only. Not the crash tested car

5) When buying an old used car, one needs to be careful and avoid cars that have had large frontal impact. Low quality Chinese airbags have been found to be retrofitted on some of these cars in the USA & Europe.


But questions remain because the "lifetime" of car varies from country to country. Cars in developed countries are scrapped after a few years while in developing countries, cars are run for decades and are scrapped only after they become rust buckets.
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Old 14th November 2014, 13:19   #32
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Default Re: Long Term Reliability Of Airbags In Older Cars

On my car's manual (Civic), there is a general statement on airbags that they are 'virtually maintenance free". There is no maintenance that the system needs on the user's part except when the SRS/ airbag malfunction indicator flashes - the one in your post. The Takata issue had got me worried but since my car was manufactured in 2007, I think it is unaffected.

However, stuff like these do worry me if the airbags would deploy fine in case we need them the most.

Edit: Would also like to know if insurance companies cover the cost of re-instating a deployed airbag?

Last edited by saket77 : 14th November 2014 at 13:22.
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Old 14th November 2014, 13:28   #33
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Default Re: Long Term Reliability Of Airbags In Older Cars

I would like to know the reason behind if it's true. As far as I know after sensors detect collision, airbags are inflated by an explosion as they have fraction of second to act. I guess some chemical reaction must be getting fired which causes explosion and in turn inflates the airbags.

Do these chemicals become inert or disintegrate and lose their characteristics over a time period which fails the airbag mechanism?

Last edited by StepUP! : 14th November 2014 at 13:29.
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Old 14th November 2014, 13:54   #34
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Default Re: Long Term Reliability Of Airbags In Older Cars

The main compound used to trigger the explosion for inflation is Sodium azide; which is toxic in itself. Now if someone like Sir Sanjay Gupta (SGIITK) who is more knowledgeable in the field can elaborate more on the shelf life of this compound, it would be great and the thread would continue on the right track rather than assumptions.

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