Airbags: Everything You Need to Know About Them

Posted by Artem Martynyuk on

Having a car makes for more accessible travel. That means no more tiring walks, commuting, and riding cramped public transportation. While having your own vehicle is incredibly beneficial, it’s just as important to pay attention to the safety measures that you must observe when riding it. After all, you cannot reap its benefits if you experience an accident on the road.

One such safety measure in cars is using an airbag. They are a standard feature in vehicles, but most owners take them for granted. You may not see them (and you should keep it that way), but they play a vital role in minimizing the chances of injury in a car crash, fatal or not.

In this article, we’ll be talking all about airbags. Read on below to learn more.

Understanding Your Airbags

Records show two known patent applications for airbags, which date way back to the early 1950s. These are based on compressed air, but research conducted in the 1960s showed that the proposed air system did not inflate airbags fast enough, making them ineffective.

Later on, Ford Motors introduced cars consisting of airbags. General Motors followed suit in 1973, and their airbags were arguably better because drivers and passengers could use them. Unfortunately, this didn’t last long because consumer interest was low, so they discontinued it.

When the 1980s rolled in, most car manufacturers offered airbags as a standard piece of car equipment. Since 1998, American car manufacturers have been required by law to install airbag systems in every new car that they make.

How Airbags Work

Airbags are part of a system known as the inflatable restraint system or air cushion restraint system (ACRS). Conversely, they’re also called the supplemental restraint system (SRS) because they add to the protection that seatbelts already provide.

They are specifically designed to inflate and deflate in a matter of milliseconds, which certainly comes in handy if an automobile accident happens. The main parts of the ACRS that provide assistance are the crash sensors, airbag module, and the diagnostic or control unit.

You can find crash sensors all over your vehicle, which determine the force of a collision and also decide whether to inflate the airbag or not. The airbag control unit keeps track of the sensors and tells them if airbag deployment has to be done.

On the other hand, the airbag module consists of the actual airbag and an inflator unit. The airbags are usually made of thin, woven nylon fabric, tucked in car doors, seats, steering wheel, and on top of the glove compartment. You can find the inflator unit inside the airbag, which is a tiny canister housing, an igniter, and chemical fuel, all in one. When a crash occurs, the chemical undergoes a reaction that gives off nitrogen gas. In turn, this inflates the bag.

The Different Types of Airbags

There are four primary kinds of airbags: frontal, side, knee, and rear curtain. Due to extensive research regarding automobile safety, newer airbags have been introduced, such as pedestrian airbags and inflatable safety bags.

Front Airbag

Front airbags, as the name suggests, protect the driver and front-seat passenger. You can find the driver’s airbag in the steering wheel, while the airbag for the front-seat passenger is in the dashboard. The airbags are deployed whenever moderate to head-on collisions occur, and they primarily protect the head and chest from coming into hard contact with surfaces in the car. For maximum protection, the driver and front-seat passenger must be wearing seatbelts and sitting correctly at all times. 

Side Airbag

Side airbags come in handy during side collisions because a car’s sides are the most vulnerable, especially if passengers are sitting by the door. There are three variations of side airbags:

  • Side Torso Airbag - mounted in the seat, a side torso airbag protects the person from smashing their body on the door. It reduces injuries in the pelvic and abdominal areas.
  • Side Curtain Airbag - A side curtain airbag is installed just behind the roof trim, directly above the doors. It helps lessen the risk of head injuries.
  • Head Side Airbag - like side curtain airbags, head side airbags also protect a person’s head. The only difference is it secures you from hitting the object the car has collided with, such as a tree, pole, or another vehicle.

Knee Airbag

In most high-speed crashes, people are likely to sustain knee injuries because a person’s kneecaps can shatter during an impact.

Knee airbags help to distribute the force of impact to prevent not only injuries but broken bones as well. It keeps people in their position in a head-on collision, which lessens the pressure on a person’s body.


There are many different airbags, but their purpose at the core is the same: to keep you from sustaining injuries during a vehicular collision. As long as your car’s airbags remain untouched and in good condition, they will be there to protect you when the need arises.

You must repair your airbag module after using it in an accident. If you don’t, chances are it won’t work correctly if another accident happens, which could put your life in danger. Luckily, Repair My SRS provides top-quality services for SRS module repair! It’s best to call a professional so that you can be sure to handle everything correctly. Contact us today to learn more!

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