How does an airbag work?

October 31, 2022

What does the airbag do?

Everyone knows it: an airbag keeps you from getting hurt or less injured when you are involved in a car accident. The airbag works best when the driver is sitting upright in his seat and wearing his seat belt. A life-threatening situation that still sometimes occurs during (long) car rides is when the passenger puts his/her feet on the dashboard. Then, should you get into a car accident, your legs and feet will fly double-built to the ceiling of the car. So never “lie down” in the front seat with your legs against the windshield.


How exactly does the airbag work?

An airbag consists of several parts. It all starts with two sensors, which measure impact in the event of an accident. When this impact is large enough, these sensors send a signal to the ignition in the airbag. These then cause the gas generator to inflate the airbag (a type of bag). This happens very quickly, within a mere 0.03 seconds. After the rapid inflation, the airbag deflates immediately through a large hole. In this way, suffocation by the airbag is prevented. If you have a child seat attached to the passenger seat, it is wise to turn off the airbag for the front passenger. Consult your own car’s instruction manual for exactly how this works.

Is an airbag reusable?

An airbag has a self-diagnostic system. This system detects any faults in the airbag, and the car then displays a check engine light. Therefore, when the airbag light flashes, it is wise to go to the garage. The cost of fixing such a breakdown varies by car. You cannot reuse an airbag. If you were unlucky enough to be involved in an accident, you will have to have the old airbag removed and a new one installed, or have a totally new steering wheel with an airbag installed.

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