Three Reasons to Worry About Your Airbag

Three Reasons to Worry About Your Airbag

The automotive airbag is receiving a lot of media attention lately. Discover a reliable way to find out if the inflatable restraint safety recalls apply to your automobile. In addition, review reasons your airbag light comes on and a few problems that won’t turn on the light.

Airbags in the News

Automotive safety problems are always popular news stories. Often your favorite news anchor provides all the details about the problem, but fails to provide the information about how you can find out if your car is included or likely to suffer from the issue. As an example, the Takata Corporation, an automotive parts manufacturing company, currently has a massive airbag recall. Close to 8 Million vehicles from ten different manufacturers are affected and more are likely to find their way on the list. This is a result of the globalization of the automotive industry where one supplier begins to corner the market and provide components at a lower price.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has provided a vehicle identification number look up tool so consumers can receive an accurate answer to the question, is my vehicle included in the giant airbag recall. Consumer Reports.org has also posted a series of videos and articles that help put the dangers into perspective.

My Airbag Light is Off

Sometimes motorists become too dependent on their dashboard warning lights. Although the light will come on when the system detects a problem, in isolated cases, when the light is off, it doesn’t mean everything is okay. In the Takata Corporation airbag recall mentioned above, the two major problems associated with the safety defect will not turn on the airbag warning light. The scenario in which the chemical powered inflator fails to deploy the bag is not an issue the module can detect. The other problem in the safety campaign is metal debris discharging when the bag deploys. Again this will not illuminate a warning light. The airbag module and its monitoring system run automatic current and resistance checks. This verifies the major system components are operational and connected to each other. It is not a guarantee the bag will deploy with out incident.

Is My Airbag Operational

Car makers designed the inflatable restraint system to provide feedback of operational readiness via the instrument panel indicator lamp. It’s a good idea to become familiar with the operation of the airbag readiness light on your particular automobile as they can vary between year, make and models. Generally speaking, when the engine is started the airbag light will flash a few times as the system runs a self diagnostic test. Some Individual components like the crash sensors and the steering wheel mounted clock spring will go through an automatic resistance check to verify it falls within the parameters. If continuity and resistance tests all fall within specifications the light should go out and stay out. According to my General Motors product owner’s manual if the light behaves this way it means the airbag is ready to deploy in an accident.

My Airbag Light Comes On

The automotive airbag is a constantly monitored system. It does a great job of reporting connectivity problems that can prevent it from working properly in a vehicle crash. As an example, if a problem is detected in the coil spring that connects the driver side airbag inflation module to the vehicles power source, the light will either come on steady or flash a code using short and long blinks to represent the malfunction.

Automotive airbag systems are more complicated to diagnose because there is no mandatory standardization as in the case of the on board diagnostic systems used to control engine emissions. Unfortunately, most airbag problems require a visit to the dealership or qualified auto repair center. Although airbags can appear to be troublesome there is no question they save lives when used in conjunction with seat belts. Take the time to see if your automobile is included in the Takata Corporation airbag recall. If it’s not, read your owner’s manual and familiarize yourself with your cars supplemental inflatable restraint system. Finally, verify proper operation by examining your airbag readiness light when starting the engine.