An airbag is a type of vehicle restraint system or passive safety device. It consists of an inflated cushion made out of strong fabric that fastens the steering wheel to the seat and is designed to inflate rapidly during a collision. The main function is to protect occupants from hitting things inside the car such as the steering wheel, dashboard, windshield, etc. It’s one of those things you don’t need until you actually need it – like seat belts! Today, they are standard in nearly all cars, and generally offer superior protection with less chance of injury compared with older style “soft” collapsible steering wheels and rigid benches which could cause serious injury following even minor collisions against protruding objects.
Types of Car Air Bags
Passive Air Bags
Most of the cars on this planet feature passive airbags. They are standard equipment in all new car models and come as prefabricated parts with the car itself, ready to “unfold” during a crash. There’s no need for electricity or any other power source – the process is entirely automatic. However, despite its name, it doesn’t protect you passively but actuates immediately when an impact is detected by sensors attached to your vehicle’s steering wheel. Depending on the severity of the collision, inflation may be delayed by three to eight seconds. During that time the passenger compartment remains intact which reduces potential injuries.
Active Air Bags
Active airbags are usually installed in cars and high-end luxury SUVs which can afford advanced crash detection and safety features. These devices monitor your speed, the area of impact, and the angle of collision in order to determine whether you need help or not. If such is the case they prepare themselves for deployment by inflating while you’re braking or simply avoiding a crash. They offer superior safety during collisions with large animals, pedestrians, and other cars since it works like a standard passive system: It deploys when needed and saves lives.
Frontal Air Bags
They are present in the front center of the steering wheel or dashboard, depending on the car model. They are designed to absorb the force from the upper part of your body including the head, chest, and pelvis. This is the most common type in modern cars. It offers pretty good protection in case of frontal collisions.
Side Air Bags
These are usually installed on both sides of the steering wheel, slightly above shoulder level. They inflate upon impact with another car or object to protect you from hitting your head against the door window, a steering column, or any other parts inside your vehicle’s cabin.
Why It is Necessary to Use Air Bags?
Airbags are extremely important because they reduce the effect of the collision on your body. They work as a safeguard against hitting hard surfaces inside the car. And protect you from getting injured as a result of such impact. This is why using seat belts as well as airbags is highly recommended. Since even injuries like broken bones or cuts can be avoided by them.
Manufacturers vary when it comes to designing cars with accessories, but usually, an airbag protection system consists of:
1) Occupant classification sensors – usually mounted either side and under the steering wheel. These devices determine if you’re sitting in an appropriate position and fasten seat belts if needed, then activate front-seat airbags accordingly;
2) Airbag Control Unit (ACU) – it’s an electronic system responsible for deploying/inflating active airbags at the right moment.
3) Airbag module – it’s a container holding gas under pressure that inflates/deflates airbags when needed. The whole procedure is pretty fast. Starting from 0.04 seconds after impact up to 3-4 seconds depending on the severity of a collision.
How Much Pressure Can An Air Bag Provide?
Most passive airbags offer 100kN (22 lbs) of breaking strength which is enough to prevent any types of injuries, even fatal ones.
Can I Replace Or Repair My Air Bag?
In case of an accident, the pressure generated by the gas inside is so high that even if shot with a gun it would explode. In order to restore its full potential, you’d have to replace it entirely which means buying a brand new one and hiring a professional for installation. For more information on how they work check out our main article.
Car Air Bag Safety: What To Do Before And After The Accident?
You should always wear your seat belt first and then let auto-accelerate because deploying them too early may result in injuries during not-so-severe accidents. Passive ones will do their job either way, but it’s important to know how to react after a collision just in case of emergency:
1) Get Out Of Car:
You might consider staying inside if there is any risk of fire or explosion. But if not, you should get out and check yourself and passengers for any injuries.
2) Call Emergency:
If someone inside your car is injured, or trapped call 911 first. Then do everything it takes to rescue them without getting too close to the damaged vehicle. Because it may still have some hazardous substances in it.
3) Inflate Your Air Bag:
Passive airbags shouldn’t be inflated before being checked by a professional. But if you’re sure they aren’t needed anymore inflate them with manual inflation valves. These are most often placed on the steering wheel column right behind the steering wheel itself. Sometimes airbag modules need to be replaced. Because inflator units can fail as well after a collision or just stop working due to natural expiration.