Can you drive a car after your car’s airbag deploys? If the car is still drivable, should you continue to your destination? The answer is yes, and no.
In most modern cars, once the airbags are deployed, the engine automatically shuts down. This is to further protect the driver and the passengers in the event of a collision. If you have an older car model, the engine may not shut down after the airbags are deployed, and thus you may still drive your car. However, this is dangerous as the deployed airbags will block the windshield. You may need to cut the airbag out or tear it out to be able to drive your vehicle.
If there is damage to your vehicle due to the collision, you may place you and your passengers' safety at risk as you're driving a broken car. Take note that even broken tail lights can be dangerous. Also, you are more likely going to be pulled over by the police with broken tail lights, headlights, or fender.
Airbags Deployed and What to Do After an Airbag Deploys
Airbags are deployed through a sensor. When these sensors have been triggered, these need to be reset, and the airbag module repaired before you can drive your car. If you overlook resetting the airbag sensor, the new airbag module or newly-repaired module won't be able to pop out in case of a collision. You and your passengers may be severely injured.
Also, in modern vehicles, there is an SRS/airbag warning light similar to an engine warning light. This light tells you that there are problems with your airbags, and these won't deploy during an emergency. Therefore, it's best to check the status of your airbags using the check airbag lights. And if you notice the airbag warning light lit, do not drive the vehicle. Instead, take it to a car airbag specialist.
In most cases, we do not recommend driving a car with the airbags deployed.
The reason to drive your vehicle with the airbags deployed is when you need to take a passenger to a hospital. We recommend calling 911 before you start driving so you can receive proper instructions.
Also, call your car insurance company to request for towing assistance, if this is included in your insurance package. If not, you may need to call a private towing service company to have your car moved to safety and the nearest auto repair company. This is a crucial step, especially if your car's engine has been locked after the airbags have deployed.
If your engine is still running after a collision and after the airbags have been activated, the best thing you can do is drive your car to a nearby safe area. If there's a gas station nearby or a parking lot, drive slowly to the area. If the collision happened in the middle of the freeway, then you must drive your vehicle to a safe area to avoid causing further accidents and heavy traffic.
Is it Illegal to Drive a Car without Airbags?
There is no law stating that's it's illegal to drive a vehicle with no airbags. In fact, many older cars, trucks, and vans are still on the road with no airbags or have airbag modules that are not repaired. And despite this practice of driving with no airbags have become very common, having ready and efficient airbags can contribute to you and your family's safety.
Airbags, together with seatbelts, help prevent a driver's head from smashing on the steering wheel during a high-speed crash. According to experts, airbags scan lower the risk of sustaining a serious head injury at around 85% than using a seatbelt alone at just 60%.
Airbags Replacement Cost
Repairing an airbag module is all about replacing the popped out bag with a new one. Usually, if the airbag on your wheel is the one deployed, the entire wheel assembly, including the column, may need to be replaced. Sometimes replacement of the airbag module can take a day or two, depending on the make and model of your vehicle and the severity of the repairs (especially when your vehicle needs engine repair and body works. You may end up without a car to drive for weeks!
The cost of airbag replacement could up to $300 to $1000 plus labor cost. However, it's hard to determine the exact cost of airbag replacement because you need to consider some important factors. The type or brand of vehicle, the type of the airbag, the location, and additional repairs, all affect the price of airbag replacement costs.
Luckily, auto insurance covers airbag replacement. In some auto insurance coverage, the insurance company may even provide a courtesy car for you. If you want to know what your car insurance covers, call your insurer right away.This also goes for instances when the side curtain airbags are deployed.
Another question that most car insurance holders have regarding airbag replacement costs is, "Can cutting away an airbag affect insurance coverage?" The answer to this is NO. Your coverage remains even if you cut the airbag away right after it has deployed.
Also, we recommend that before you cut away the airbags, document the collision. Take a photo of the damage or damages and write down all the important information you gathered. If there are other people involved like another driver, passengers and pedestrians write down their names and contact details. Call your car insurance provider right after.
Can You Install Airbags for a Vehicle With No Airbags?
Yes, you can. If you're concerned about the safety and would like to keep you and your passengers safe, then, by all means, have your old vehicle fitted with airbags. Consider local car repair centers or local car safety company to get an estimate.
Also, adding safety equipment like airbags and car security systems can help reduce your insurance premiums, consult your car insurance company for details.
James is a certified auto technician specializing in commercial vehicles. With 30 years of experience under his belt, James has encountered almost every type of automotive issue there is! Besides his day job at the repair shop, he is also an amateur race car driver.