How Automobile Airbags Work


The airbag is obviously one of the most important modern safety inventions for cars. This invention saves countless lives. So maybe its worth taking a look to see how airbags work and what happens during an accident. When car crashes happen, you want to make sure that you have airbags that are properly functioning to keep you and anyone else in your vehicle safe. By reading on, you can learn everything that you need to know about airbags and why they are so important.

If you happen to find yourself in an accident where airbags are deployed make sure to follow these safety tips in this article: You Were in an Auto Collision, Now What?


Understanding Car Airbags and How They Work

Airbags consist of 3 parts:

  • The bag itself, which is made from a thin, nylon fabric that is folded into various parts of the car to protect its occupants.
  • The sensor, which is a device on the airbag that is responsible for telling it when to inflate.
  • The inflation system, which is responsible for inflating the airbag. This happens because the NaN3 (Sodium Azide) reacts with the KNO3 (Potassium Nitrate), producing a nitrogen gas that will inflate the airbag.

There is typically an airbag in the center part of the steering wheel to protect the driver, in the upper dashboard to protect the passenger, and other parts of the car depending on what the car make, and model is to protect all of the passengers and the driver.


How do airbags work?

This will quickly go over how airbags work:

  • Sensors control the deployment of the airbag. These sensors will detect both the occurrence and the severity of an accident. Once the controller determines that the airbag needs to be deployed, the system will trigger an inflator unit which will burn the chemicals to create the reaction that inflates the airbag.
  • When the bag inflates, it will split open the area covering it as it emerges through.
  • For the front airbags, the occupant of the car’s upper body and head hits the airbag, which will cushion them and start to slowly deflate. This process typically only takes about 100 milliseconds.
  • The side and curtain airbags will deflate more slowly than the front airbags.
  • You can expect a lot of smoke, noise, and dust when the airbag is deployed.


What Happens with an Airbag During a Car Accident?

Airbags won’t deploy in every case. There are certain requirements that need to be met in order for the airbag to deploy, including:

  • The automobile must have been traveling more than 15 MPH.
  • The angle of the impact has to be within thirty degrees on either side of the center of the car, about sixty degrees in total.
  • The deceleration forces that are produced must be at least equal to the ones produced when an automobile has a head-on collision with an immovable barrier at around 15 MPH.

If your car accident meets these criteria, your airbags will deploy to keep yourself and the other occupants of your car safe.

Airbags are essential safety features in cars today. They are made to reduce the severity of a car accident whenever possible, keeping everyone in the car as safe as possible. If you find yourself involved in a collision in which air bags are deployed Quality Assured Collision Center auto body repair technicians will help get your vehicle repaired properly and restored to pre-accident condition.