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Old 09-27-2008, 02:17 PM   #1
Bob K
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Default Airbag Powder--but NOT Airbag--Deployed During Theft Attempt

A thief tried to steal the airbag out of my '93 SC2. He also made off with an expensive flashlight out of center console. It appears he jammed something into the airbag near the right horn button. All of the airbag lubricant powder deployed, but the airbag did not.

.

I believe all I'll have to replace is the airbag. The module, clock spring, etc. should be undamaged. Do you agree? Since there doesn't seem to be a how-to on it, I've also thought about trying to do one as I replace the airbag.

Fortunately, replacement airbags for a '93 SC2 seem to be going for about $70 on eBay. I need the gray color. Are there any other years that have the same color and would serve as a good donor for my '93 SC2?

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Old 09-27-2008, 02:20 PM   #2
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Default Re: Airbag Powder--but NOT Airbag--Deployed During Theft Attempt

I would just replace the bag. If it fired then you will know when you pull it out as the connector on the back will be fried.

When you get he old one out of there you can take the plastic cover of of it and if you are very careful you can switch the covers.

In a minute you will be receiving a host of warnings that either bag can go off while doing this. I will only say that these things are shipped by UPS.

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Old 09-27-2008, 03:54 PM   #3
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Default Re: Airbag Powder--but NOT Airbag--Deployed During Theft Attempt

thats one of the strangest things ive ever seen. is the bag cover broken or open?

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Old 09-27-2008, 05:15 PM   #4
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Default Re: Airbag Powder--but NOT Airbag--Deployed During Theft Attempt

The powder prevents the bag from melting from the friction of deployment. The bag is all neatly folded up inside there with this semi-safe powder between the folds so when the charge blows it off in your face it does not friction weld its self into a glob.

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Old 09-27-2008, 07:32 PM   #5
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Default Re: Airbag Powder--but NOT Airbag--Deployed During Theft Attempt

Nope. The front cover isn't torn or bulged. The only indication that powder came out of the steering wheel is a little bit of powder around the horn button and on the steering wheel.

Does the '93 steering wheel come in different colors of gray, e.g. a darker gray and a lighter gray. Or, are they all the same color gray? I'm trying to decide which airbag on eBay is the right color.

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Old 09-27-2008, 08:35 PM   #6
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Default Re: Airbag Powder--but NOT Airbag--Deployed During Theft Attempt

For the SC-2 in 93 it looks like the factory only had one color they seem to have called it TAN when it was leather seats and GREY with cloth. It looks like there was only one shade of GREY for the air bag. looks like the actual color name that was used is graphite. Thats from looking in the parts book which is none too clear.

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Old 09-27-2008, 11:23 PM   #7
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Default Re: Airbag Powder--but NOT Airbag--Deployed During Theft Attempt

looks like the steering wheel was always dark. im looking at the 1993 brochure and it has a tan interior with the same dark steering wheel.

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Old 09-27-2008, 11:52 PM   #8
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Default Re: Airbag Powder--but NOT Airbag--Deployed During Theft Attempt

Thats what I was coming up with all the plastic dash was a grey (Graphite).

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Old 09-28-2008, 05:20 PM   #9
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Default Re: Airbag Powder--but NOT Airbag--Deployed During Theft Attempt

Riddle me this. How does so much airbag lubricant powder--if that is indeed what is all over the inside of my car--get out of the airbag without leaving any signs of an activated explosive charge? Take a look at these pictures. This is the "blown" airbag I took out of the car. This airbag looks perfectly fine to me! Plus, did I mention that the airbag warning light is not illuminated?



Plus, the cavities beneath where the horn button is are open to the world. I can pull the airbag cover back and see the airbag. If there were powder in there, it would spill out every time I turned a corner. Is there any chance that some punks threw a whole bunch of airbag lube look-alike powder all over the inside of my car just for grins???

Weird. This one really has me baffled.

Last edited by Bob K; 09-28-2008 at 05:31 PM..

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Old 09-28-2008, 06:03 PM   #10
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Default Re: Airbag Powder--but NOT Airbag--Deployed During Theft Attempt

Whether or not the airbag is useable as is or is indeed trashed by the attempt to steal it, NEVER EVER point the front of the airbag face down especially when you're not at all familiar with the explosive potential of an undeployed airbag! Look at your pics again and ponder what you just got away with. If the airbag IS useable and you pointed the front face down on a table for pics of the back and it suddenly went off............you wouldn't be posting these pics online but would be in the emergency room undergoing facial examination of a deployed airbag with the rear steel portion embedded in your face. That airbag or any airbag is the same as a loaded weapon and precautions are always necessary when handling an undeployed one - even if you think its no longer live. Since you didn't have pics of the actual bag blown out from the steering wheel you must consider the airbag you're handling as a live device and handle it accordingly; point the front of the device away from you and when placing it on a table, point the front upwards so any accidental deployment will blow the bag upwards and not the reverse, what you just displayed, of the back of the airbag facing upwards! If the bag deployed with the explosive force we've all seen in those crash videos, you would have had a faceful of metal jammed into your face or the camera jammed into your face from the impact of the metal backing being blown upwards/into your line of sight. Not a very pretty picture. Think about it.

To safely deploy an airbag to render it safe for disposal, a simple 12v power supply is wired from 30 feet away to set off the airbag with the front facing upwards and a safe distance away when setting off the explosive charge. Not knowing if your airbag is useable or not should be tested by qualified people in the field of airbag handling to determine whether or not yours is still useable. From your pictures alone it appears that its undeployed and still intact with only the powder to give any clue as to whether or not its from the airbag or just a prank from the clueless trying to vandalize your car. The hint that the airbag is still useable is the lack of the airbag indicator letting you know that something's wrong. If I'm not mistaken, and have read the FSM correctly, each airbag is tested for continuity whenever battery power is available to the SDM that monitors and fires the airbag(s). A deployed airbag will immediately turn on the airbag indicator not only because one deployed but if continuity is lost to each unit - in other words either a disconnected unit or one that deployed. The SDM detects this and now renders the rest of the system disabled until repairs/replacement are done.

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Old 09-28-2008, 07:31 PM   #11
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Default Re: Airbag Powder--but NOT Airbag--Deployed During Theft Attempt

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob K View Post
Riddle me this. How does so much airbag lubricant powder--if that is indeed what is all over the inside of my car--get out of the airbag without leaving any signs of an activated explosive charge? Take a look at these pictures. This is the "blown" airbag I took out of the car. This airbag looks perfectly fine to me! Plus, did I mention that the airbag warning light is not illuminated?



Plus, the cavities beneath where the horn button is are open to the world. I can pull the airbag cover back and see the airbag. If there were powder in there, it would spill out every time I turned a corner. Is there any chance that some punks threw a whole bunch of airbag lube look-alike powder all over the inside of my car just for grins???

Weird. This one really has me baffled.
There is a lubricating powder associated with an air bag. Usually inside of it and lightly on the outside. You may be right about something else having been tossed into the car.

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Old 09-28-2008, 08:18 PM   #12
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Default Re: Airbag Powder--but NOT Airbag--Deployed During Theft Attempt

id have to say something thrown in the car, how else would it get out of the airbag without it deploying?

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Old 09-28-2008, 08:48 PM   #13
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Default Re: Airbag Powder--but NOT Airbag--Deployed During Theft Attempt

Here is a bit more information. It is possible that you are looking at the initiating charge.

http://www.answers.com/topic/sodium-azide


This is probably waht you are looking at:

The sodium that is formed is a potential hazard itself and, in automobile airbags, it is converted by reaction with other ingredients, such as potassium nitrate (KNO3) and silica (SiO2), into an inert alkaline silicate 'glass'.[3]

Last edited by OldNuc; 09-28-2008 at 09:01 PM..

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Old 09-28-2008, 09:18 PM   #14
Bob K
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Default Re: Airbag Powder--but NOT Airbag--Deployed During Theft Attempt

I have a replacement airbag on the way, compliments of eBay. I'll be curious to see what the new used one looks like.

$33 out the door is a far cry from the several hundred I expected to pay for a used Saturn airbag. Appreciate the comments so far.

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Old 09-28-2008, 09:24 PM   #15
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Default Re: Airbag Powder--but NOT Airbag--Deployed During Theft Attempt

More info

The powdery substance released from the airbag, by the way, is regular cornstarch or talcum powder, which is used by the airbag manufacturers to keep the bags pliable and lubricated while they're in storage.

From here:http://auto.howstuffworks.com/airbag1.htm

looks like you are looking at he bag lubricating powder.

It will be interesting to see what the eBay bag looks like. The corn starch might be in a easily broken packet that was ruptured in the break in. I would be carefully disassembling the old one. But I have been known to do things that were not considered favorably by my peers.

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Old 09-29-2008, 04:01 PM   #16
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Default Re: Airbag Powder--but NOT Airbag--Deployed During Theft Attempt

take vid if you "deploy" old one.....

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Old 09-29-2008, 07:42 PM   #17
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Default Re: Airbag Powder--but NOT Airbag--Deployed During Theft Attempt

with the angle and the sheer amount of powder i don't think that is from the air bag for it to shoot out like that the charge would have had to go off and the connector would be fried

i have been in a accident and hit the air bag there just is not that much powder

i need a new airbag i'll buy yours off you i bet its perfectly fine

just my opinion though

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Old 10-01-2008, 12:20 AM   #18
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Default Re: Airbag Powder--but NOT Airbag--Deployed During Theft Attempt

I agree with previous posts. The reason your airbag looks intact is probably because it *is* intact -minus lubricating talc-.
This means you have been handling an explosive device during all this time...

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Old 10-01-2008, 08:07 PM   #19
Bob K
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Default Re: Airbag Powder--but NOT Airbag--Deployed During Theft Attempt

I received the "new" used '93 SC2 airbag today. Upon close examination, there is no powder--either in free form or encapsulated--visible around the bag. And that's a good thing. Since the airbag is exposed to the open air around the horn buttons, the powder would just fall out if it were in there in free form. Additionally, there is no residue on the old bag nor on the new bag. I'm now pretty certain that someone just "nuked" the car with corn starch or some other type of powder.

"New" Airbag Photos


At some point, I'll take the old airbag to Saturn and see what their take is on it.

Nonetheless, $33 is a rather inexpensive fix, so I'm going to put this "new" one in and find a creative way to pop the old one.

It's still a baffling incident...

By the way, replacing just the airbag on a '93 SC2 is very simple.
  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable and allow the car to sit for a couple hours in order to bleed down the capacitors in airbag system.
  2. Remove the four 8mm bolts on rear of steering wheel.
  3. Remove the small blue plastic piece that locks the airbag electrical connector in place.
  4. Remove the airbag two-prong electrical connector and remove the airbag from the steering wheel.
  5. Reverse procedure to install the new airbag. Stay clear of the airbag while reconnecting the battery and when starting the car for the first time in order to add a safety margin and allow for failures or an unintended airbag deployment.
  6. Check for an airbag warning light.

Last edited by Bob K; 10-01-2008 at 08:17 PM..

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Old 10-01-2008, 11:37 PM   #20
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Default Re: Airbag Powder--but NOT Airbag--Deployed During Theft Attempt

I recently worked on a movie shoot with car wrecking stunts which called for deployed airbags. They removed them from the car and deployed them by tying them to a tree and making sure they were face up. I can tell you, those things go off with some serious force and a very loud bang.

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