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Airbags Information

In the early ‘90’s airbag systems (SRS –Safety Restraint Systems) first came into use.  Early Mercedes and BMWs were the first models to have them on board as standard, but Ford and all the other Joe Soap manufacturers fell in line pretty fast.

The system is a series of different components – two front seatbelts or seatbelt tensioners, which blow up on impact pulling you back into your seat at the same time as the airbags blow up stopping your face and body from smashing off the steering wheel, dashboard and windscreen.  

Most of the earlier systems only had driver airbags to protect the driver but as time passed these systems evolved into dual (twin) systems and as the years went by more and more airbags were added creating multiple airbag vehicles: roof bags (also called curtain bags or pillar bags) drop down from the area where the roof meets the doors to shield passengers from flying glass and debris; side bags, which can be located in the doors or seats in earlier models but now all round in modern cards, blow up to protect your body from sharp edges i.e. broken door panels and twisted metal that can occur in a side impact crash; a lot of cars manufactured today also now have knee bags in front of the driver’s knees, and sometimes front passenger’s knees to protect them from smashing off the dashboard.

In the earlier systems most seatbelts were self-detonating, then becoming electronic.  More seatbelts were added front and back.  Now a lot of modern cars have 3-point systems on both seatbelts and tensioners in the front seats – pulling you in at both of your hips and diagonally across your chest.

All modern vehicles have airbag systems made up of several components.  As with a set of Christmas lights, where most people know that if you remove one bulb the lights stop working, it’s much the same with an airbag system.  All systems are controlled the main module (detonator).  This unit picks up a signal from the front running gear (suspension, drive train) when it takes a knock in an accident.  This signal is then sent to the airbags and seatbelts to detonate at the same time to have maximum effect.  Later vehicles have modules on each side of the car called satellite modules to pick up side impacts letting the main module detonate curtains or side bags.

When a person starts their car an airbag symbol or light should come on along with other lights such as your battery light, momentarily, and when the ignition is on the lights go out.  This means your airbag system is armed and ready to work if need be, in an accident.  It cannot be stressed enough that if the light stays on (or doesn’t come on at all) there is something wrong with your airbag system.

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