15

How do I know if the airbags have expired? Is it the same years for every airbag? Maybe they can be checked?

Then, if I have the airbags expired, what would be the consequences of using the car? Would the airbags get activated without a crash? Or if I have a crash, would they still protect me?

I know that replacing the airbags is something expensive and I want to know what the risks are. I am about to buy a Golf GTI '99 so that means that the airbags are 17 years old (if never changed, of course).

11

In general airbags don't have an expiration date. The airbags in a modern vehicle are designed to last for life.

Some manufacturers have service intervals for the airbags, but it's normally a visual check and making sure the SRS (airbag) diagnostic systems is functioning correctly.

Mercedes put expiration date stickers on the door sill with an expiration date of 10 years out, but even then they retroactively decided that all air bags installed after 1992 did not have a meaningful expiration date so most of those stickers are meaningless.

If airbags did expire I think most people would just disable/uninstall them because for a 15 year old car, replacing all the airbags can potentially cost more than the vehicle is worth. I'm not suggesting this, I'm just pointing it out as a logic exercise. If there was a 15yr time-bomb on the value of the vehicle, you'd hear about it a lot more.

  • You sound so obvious telling this that you make me think that this is a myth that was installed in my area. People keep telling me "you will have to replace all you airbags as they have expired!" and that always sounded stupid for me. – Pablo Matias Gomez May 17 '16 at 19:44
  • 1
    Alfa had stickers on the doors for airbag expiry at 10 years old as well. Given the costs of an airbag replacement compared to UK prices of 2nd hand cars, replacement would certainly be more than the value of the car. A non working airbag system (shown by the airbag warning light) would result in a car failing its annual safety inspection (MOT test), so not being legal to use on the roads. – Kickstart May 18 '16 at 8:35
6

You should check to see if your car is under the current Takata Air Bag recall

Does an Airbag Expire? While some automakers have set time limits on when to replace an airbag, the actual components are extremely durable. The key difference is the type of seal used to house the airbag igniter, also known as the squib.

"Almost all squibs since Day One have used what is called 'glass-to-metal' sealing, which is the best for moisture protection," says Douglas Campbell, who is president of the Automotive Safety Council and has worked in the airbag industry for more than 25 years.

"Some earlier non-North American models may have used 'plastic-to-metal' seals, which would have passed the vehicle life tests, but are considered to be potentially not as robust in extreme testing," Campbell says.

Leo Knowlden, a field performance assessment engineer for General Motors, said that GM has used glass-to-metal seals on all its airbags since the very beginning. A plastic-to-metal seal is more likely to accumulate moisture over the years, Knowlden says. This can lead to corrosion of the electrical pins in the igniter and potentially lead to a less responsive airbag.

As proof of the lifetime durability of GM airbags, Knowlden pointed to a 1992 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study, where a rusty 1972 Chevrolet Impala was crash-tested and both the driver's airbag and passenger airbag successfully deployed. That Impala was one of the first 1,000 airbag-equipped cars made by GM.

And similarly, "airbags from 1990s vehicles are operating correctly in today's accidents," says Campbell.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) knows of successful deployments of airbags more than 30 years after production, says Jose Ucles, a NHTSA spokesperson.

Source

  • 2
    "a rusty 1972 Chevrolet Impala was crash-tested and both the driver's airbag and passenger airbag successfully deployed." Why does the fact that two old airbags deployed show that all old airbags will deploy? – B Seven May 17 '16 at 22:11
  • It never said that, "As proof of the lifetime durability of GM airbags," so this is not in reference to ALL airbags, only the quality of GM airbags. – Moab May 18 '16 at 14:38
  • Haha. The same argument applies to "the lifetime durability of GM airbags." – B Seven May 18 '16 at 17:25

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