You may be counting on your vehicle’s airbags for protection in the event of an accident, but if they don’t deploy correctly you and your passengers could be facing worse injuries than you’d have from the accident alone. The airbags could deploy in a dangerous way, or fail to deploy at all.
There are two major factors that will help you to determine whether your airbags are capable of providing the protection you expect and need: whether they have deployed in the past, and whether they have been recalled for any reason. Keep reading for everything you need to know about airbag safety.
Replaced and Refurbished Airbags
Have your vehicle’s airbags been replaced or refurbished? If so, they might not work the way you’re expecting–especially if they were replaced improperly or with aftermarket parts. Here are a few ways to know whether your airbags have previously deployed and have been replaced.
Visually Inspect the Car
First things first: Look for signs in the car that would point to problems with the airbags. These include:
- Warning lights on the dash: If the airbag light is lit up on the dash when the car is running, or if it doesn’t come on at all when the key is turned to the on position, the airbags might not be functioning properly and should be looked at by a qualified repair facility.
- Signs of tampering: Inspect the car’s interior. Look for variations or discolorations in the interior panels, which might indicate replacement. Also watch for crooked panels, or even residual glue around the panels where the airbags are.
Check the Car’s History
This is also one of the reasons why it’s so important to check the vehicle history, using a website such as Carfax or AutoCheck. These services can look up the car’s history by its VIN and tell you whether the car has been in an accident, as well as whether it has been totaled.
In Texas, vehicles that are in an accident are given a salvage title if the cost of their repairs exceed the car’s value before the accident. The salvage designation can be eliminated, however, if a mechanic puts a lien on a car for unpaid repairs. The car is given a new title and sold. Be wary of cars that have new titles, as they may be hiding something about their history.
What to Do?
If you find signs that lead you to believe the airbags may be malfunctioning, that they’ve been replaced, or if you find an accident in the car’s history, you may want to take the vehicle in to a dealership to have the airbags checked out. If you are a buyer, questions about the airbags should be a factor in deciding whether to purchase the vehicle.
It also occasionally happens that airbags are recalled for safety reasons. For instance, Takata, a major parts supplier, recently issued a widespread safety recall after several people were killed by a faulty airbag deployment, which caused metal shards to be propelled into the passenger space.
What to Do?
Often the dealership will send you information about any recalls that affect you, but if you want to be sure, you can do some research online to find out if any recalls affect you. Look for your make and model on the list of vehicles affected by the Takata recalls, or check your vehicle by VIN to see if there are any recalls pending on it.
You’re counting on your vehicle’s airbags to protect you and your passengers in the case of an accident. It’s important to be reasonably sure they will operate as expected if and when you need them.
If you have been in an accident where the airbags didn’t deploy as they were supposed to, please contact our law firm.