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Old 10-31-2017, 08:01 PM   #1
Mister_Cee
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Default School me on airbags

I don't know why this question "popped" into my head , as I was driving , this afternoon. But:

What say you about the probable status of 1996 SW2 airbags (car bought new in 03/2016)? The airbag light, momentarily, illuminates upon ignition on so there seems to be some kind of pre-drive check going on.

Are they something that (although *I assume* functional right off the showroom floor) are liable to still perform as designed (being 22 years old and all)?

Thanks. That's my random question of the day.

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Old 10-31-2017, 08:57 PM   #2
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Default Re: School me on airbags

Every 'idiot' light is designed for a reason. When distractions from gauges became a nuisance and streamlining gauges gave way to idiot lights, its presumed the engineers took a second look at gauges as panels began overcrowding. The abs light is the only indicator to tell the 'idiot' behind the wheel that the abs electronics begins its power up self tests and if it passes, turns off the light and goes into live standby mode while we all text and drive merrily on our way to an accident as abs waits for the right set of parameters to fulfill its requirements before exploding an airbag into our faces. The front seat passengers get to enjoy this too plus side curtain airbags for everyone whether in front or back when we get 'T' boned.

If you want no frills explanation, google the technical description.

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Old 11-01-2017, 02:26 AM   #3
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Default Re: School me on airbags

I must have been unclear in my wording.

My question had little to do with the "idiot light" (other than the fact that it does, indeed, come on at startup). My question was more about the longevity of the parts that make the airbags function properly (inflator etc.)

I'll try Googling to see what I can find. I just asked here because I don't know who writes the Google articles and I am familiar with the expertise on this forum.

Sorry to have bothered you.

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Old 11-01-2017, 04:56 AM   #4
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Default Re: School me on airbags

I am not aware of expiration of them however if you watch/listen/read the news you should be aware of Takata and their issues. Apparently the Takata issue is doe to oxidation (from age and moisture) of the propellant causing the bags to become unstable and dangerous due to a much more powerful explosion. So apparently age CAN be an issue with them

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Old 11-01-2017, 02:14 PM   #5
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Default Re: School me on airbags

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister_Cee View Post
I must have been unclear in my wording.

My question had little to do with the "idiot light" (other than the fact that it does, indeed, come on at startup). My question was more about the longevity of the parts that make the airbags function properly (inflator etc.)

I'll try Googling to see what I can find. I just asked here because I don't know who writes the Google articles and I am familiar with the expertise on this forum.

Sorry to have bothered you.
The idiot light, for all intents and purposes, is the only indicator to tell anyone the airbag system passed its own self tests when the indicator turns on and off a few seconds later. Simply put, seeing the airbag light turn and off means the airbags are on standby, ready to deploy. Airbags are not 'freshness dated' - they're lifetime components for the life of every vehicle with an airbag system. They don't age. Hundreds and thousands of perfectly good, operational airbags go to the the junk yards without any being deployed. With some imagination, triggering these junk yard cars with removed airbags are seen on youtube. If I'm not mistaken, junk yards may be required in some municipalities to be disarmed and removed for safe disposal with some states forbidding reuse of airbag parts. The opposite of this is the airbag light turns on and stays on, indicating something failed and airbags will not go on standby and will not deploy when crash parameters are met to deploy them. The indicator light is driven directly by the airbag module (SDM).

An analogy can be made with a similar safety device, ejection seats in military aircraft. One testament to reliability of ejection seats occurred when two pilots ejected from their B2 stealth bomber when it failed during takeoff. Pilots questioned if these ejection seats worked and the answer was quick to their relief. After all, ejection seats either work or not and ground crews are relied on for checking all systems before a pilot steps into their cockpit. Ejection seats are no different from airbags - needed at the moment when parameters are met. Ejection seats are armed and on standby, used when a pilot is trained to perform a few quick steps to eject safely. As drivers, all we need to do is nothing - parameters are met during a crash to trigger front and/or side airbags automatically.

The B2 crash occurred on Guam in 2008, first manufactured in 1997. 11 years and presuming ejection seats weren't replaced and original. There are more cars in older condition than the B2 and I think many of those cars had operating airbag systems when they were brought in with the exception of vehicles with deployed airbags from collision damage.

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Old 11-01-2017, 02:24 PM   #6
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Default Re: School me on airbags

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister_Cee View Post
I must have been unclear in my wording.

My question had little to do with the "idiot light" (other than the fact that it does, indeed, come on at startup). My question was more about the longevity of the parts that make the airbags function properly (inflator etc.)

I'll try Googling to see what I can find. I just asked here because I don't know who writes the Google articles and I am familiar with the expertise on this forum.

Sorry to have bothered you.
The short answer is that the air bag inflator and the actual bag is supposed to last for the life of the car. The exception is the Takata inflator which is not in the S-Series cars. This is a device that if there is a defect uncovered it will be publicized widely. This is not something to get all worked up over.

The Takata issue is a rapid detonation of the inflator module that fractures the inflator housing and turns it into shrapnel.

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Old 11-01-2017, 07:32 PM   #7
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Default Re: School me on airbags

ive never heard of an airbag not working because of age as long as it is still okd by light on startup. many out there with airbag lights disconnected and the owners arnt aware because they dont know to watch light on startup. first factory airbags are now 45 years old.

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Old 11-01-2017, 08:34 PM   #8
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Default Re: School me on airbags

As I said; the question just popped into my head, out of nowhere, when I was driving the other day and I was curious about others' experience and/or thoughts on the matter.

Thanks everyone.

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Old 11-01-2017, 09:58 PM   #9
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Default Re: School me on airbags

i do think abt that some as one of our cars is a convertable weve had for 27 1/2 years. just 1 airbag not 6 8 or 10 like today but its been in there since 1990.

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Old 11-01-2017, 10:07 PM   #10
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Default Re: School me on airbags

The inflator is sealed environmentally and if properly designed will not degrade over time.

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