Do airbags expire?
Tuesday, 27 August 2019
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably wondered if your airbag will actually work if or when it ever needs to, especially if your car is growing in age.
So are airbags a repairable item, do they need to be maintained and do they expire?
To Expire or Not To Expire?
In the late 1990s, dual airbags became mandatory in new cars, including light vehicles, so there’s a good chance yours has at least 2 airbags.
You’ll be happy to know that the modern era airbag does not expire and is destined to last the lifetime of the vehicle.
Some of the original production airbags through the 70’s to 90’s may have an inspection or replacement period around every 10-15 years.
However, of the older vehicles that have undergone crash simulation testing, the airbags have operated correctly.
Some older vehicles originally came out with a replacement date, but since then the manufacturers have determined that those airbags will most likely function for the life of the vehicle.
Pre 2000 Vehicles
If you own a pre-2000 vehicle it’s advisable to check and see if you should have your airbags replaced or inspected.
Your owner’s manual should state the manufacturer recommendation as to whether or not this needs to be carried out.
When airbags were newly implemented, manufacturers were cautious of potential expiry, being an unprecedented safety item for which no precedence of durability existed.
Durability of Airbag Igniters (Squibs)
It has now been determined that the type of seal used to house the igniter (squib), is more robust than originally expected, so the life of an airbag now matches the life of the car.
Originally, 2 types of airbag igniters were manufactured, one made of plastic and metal and the other glass and metal.
The plastic squibs were not as hard-wearing as the glass and there was also a higher chance of moisture getting into the seal, allowing the parts to possibly corrode and in turn make the igniter less efficient.
Nowadays all igniter seals are composed of glass and metal.
Monitoring your Airbags
The airbag has proven to be a reliable device that doesn’t require a lot of monitoring or repair.
This is welcome news as all vehicles manufactured today feature airbags and some vehicles can have numerous types fitted.
Regular monitoring of your vehicle’s airbags is recommended by checking the airbag light on your instrument panel.
When you turn on the ignition of the vehicle, you should see the airbag symbol light up and then switch off.
If the symbol does not light up at all or the airbag light stays on for an extended period of time, you should have your airbags checked by a qualified mechanic.
Rest assured, with more than 25 years’ history, auto manufacturers are confident in the success of the airbag’s performance and resilience.
With millions of airbags having been installed into vehicles there’s an unwavering trust that the airbag will definitely provide those few crucial seconds of cushioning in that very split second when it is required.
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Rachel spent her early adult life around cars, motorsport and hands-on with her own cars.
This interest moved into various careers within the Automotive industry. Joined with her passion for writing, Rachel loves putting the two together to share her experience, so we can all become AutoGuru’s.