is it legal to drive a car after airbags deploy

Is It Legal To Drive A Car After Airbags Deploy?


August 10, 2022

Is it legal to drive a car after airbags deploy?

When airbags are deployed in a collision, it is not a nice experience.

Despite the fact that it is a lifesaving component in a car, it may also deploy during a soft impact, when your vehicle is still driveable.

So, I frequently get asked if I can operate an automobile with airbags deployed.

In the extremely rare event that an accident resulted in the airbag deploying without causing significant damage to the vehicle, you may drive.

However, it is not advised or suggested that you do so because your car lacks one of the most essential safety features.

The issue is that your airbag activates only after it has detected a critical impact, which prevents the vehicle from being driven.

Even if the car is not damaged structurally, it may be affected operationally.

As a result, it is better to have your automobile looked at by a mechanic or an auto repair shop before getting back on the road.

Driving With Deployed Airbags

Collisions are one of the most common forms of traffic accidents; with so many automobiles on the road, there is little you can do but install all of your car’s safety features.

The airbag, for example, is an automobile component that creates a bag of air between you and the metal components of the vehicle in order to reduce severe injuries and save lives during an accident.

Is it possible for airbags to be deployed in a minor accident?

The curtain airbags may deploy during a sideways collision.

You can drive away from the scene of the collision with the steering wheel still intact.

However, I strongly advise you not to do so.

person holding black Volkswagen steering wheel in closed

Front airbags are deployed from the steering wheel in most cases.

And you have a cracked one after a collision, not to mention an inflated airbag.

Another topic that I frequently get asked is whether it is legal to drive without airbags.

It is not illegal to drive with non-functioning airbags in place.

While it is lawful for you to have functioning airbags, safety experts make it a point on taking precautions such as insisting upon having them installed.

Is The Car Totaled If The Airbags Deploy?

This is a crucial issue, especially when it comes to your vehicle insurance.

Your automobile is not immediately destroyed, as the answer might suggest.

However, there is a solid cause why many individuals believe this to be true.

In many situations, your insurance company will make a choice based on the cost of replacing airbags in the aftermath of an accident.

Airbags are single-use only, so they must be removed from the old car.

The expense of a replacement is usually around $1,000 and maybe far greater.

Replacement airbags are not cheap to install.

When the airbags are deployed, there is typically more damage to the vehicle as well.

So, if your accident resulted in a shattered windshield, significant dents in the body, and more, an insurance company will come to the conclusion that it is not worth fixing.

For example, if your vehicle is more than a year old and has had few repairs, it is unlikely that replacing all of the parts in your car would be worthwhile.

This is especially true if your automobile is quite old.

The worth of the vehicle decreases over time, therefore installing new components in an older car frequently is not worthwhile.

Why Not Drive After The Airbag Deployment?

To begin with, there is the question of a concussion if you have only just survived a collision despite the fact that there is no injury that prevents you from driving.

And then there is the shock of having just been in a collision.

Both of these have an influence on your attention for a period after the accident.

If towing is not an option, consider driving cautiously.

Furthermore, there are the deployed airbags.

These bags stay swollen/inflated for a set period of time before deflating on their own.

I would advise you to wait, but if you are in a rush, any sharp object may be used to puncture them.

This technique works for the front airbags, but it is not possible with side curtain airbags since they may need to be completely removed.

They are probably going to block your peripheral vision unless you cut them off entirely.

Is It Legal To Drive The Car After Airbags Deploy?

Although new vehicles are required by federal legislation to have airbags, they are not obligated to be replaced or utilized in the event of a deployment.

There are no laws requiring you to replace your airbags if they deploy after a collision.

This is most likely due to the fact that making airbags a requirement for all automobiles would render older models without them unusable.

person driving car during daytime

Even though something may be legal, it does not ensure that it is a good idea.

If the airbags in your automobile are not functional, there is a high chance that you will not pass a state safety inspection.

Non-functional airbags might also influence your insurance rates.

A vehicle’s airbags, like any other safety device, are covered by the insurance company.

The insurance company rewards you for having them installed in your car if that is the case.

A missing airbag might make your insurance useless if your policy conditions permit it.

Airbags And Their Types

Airbags, in combination with the seatbelt, have become a standard safety precaution for drivers.

It is a light nylon bag that inflates in the event of a significant accident to protect passengers from serious injury.

Airbags are also present on many motorcycles’ fronts.

Airbags are designed to protect your head and upper body from life-threatening injuries.

As a result, it operates in tandem with the seatbelt rather than replacing it.

You are at risk of an airbag-related injury if you do not use your seatbelts.

How Does It Work?

When a collision occurs, the control module of the system sends a signal to the inflator, which inflates the airbag in less than 1/20 second.

The airbag is filled with a non-injurious gas as a result of a chemical reaction triggered by the inflator.

Because it happens so quickly, you may get injured if you are not positioned correctly during inflation.

The deployment of the airbag is not as slow in real life, as it is in TV shows, but rather a very rapid procedure that can reach 300 km/hr.

Even though an inflating airbag appears to be a big fluffy pillow, it is not.

In fact, it is rock-hard and protects your head from striking the wheel or other components of the vehicle by projecting forward.

Airbags can do more damage than the accident itself if they are not used correctly.

Experts recommend that you sit at least 10 inches away from the wheel and hold it in the 9-3 position to minimize the risk of injury.

You may suffer anything from shattered wrists to internal injuries to serious bodily harm to your face if you do not maintain proper posture or use seatbelts.

The Different Types

The first airbags were positioned in the steering wheel and dashboard of the front passenger.

However, subsequent versions included extra airbags dispersed throughout the car to protect other passengers as well.

Depending on the manufacture and type of automobile, there may be up to nine airbags inside it. Here are a few examples:

  • Frontal airbags: On the driver’s side, there is a steering wheel airbag and a dash-mounted codriver’s airbag.
  • Knee airbags: The knee guards protect the driver and codriver’s knees from impact, as they sit at the knee level.
  • Side airbags: It is installed during rear impacts and rollovers.
  • Footbags: Opens up to protect the lower legs and the feet.
  • Curtain airbags: Deploys from the windows,   along with the roof, and protect the head.
  • Side torso airbags: Keep it upwards from a side part of the seat.
  • Seatbelt airbags: They both open up by the seatbelt, so they are in the same place.

Replacement Airbags

Airbags are expensive to replace, so your insurance companies would rather replace the automobile than the airbag if it is covered by your policy.

It might cost you from $200 to $700 to repair the one on the driver’s side and between $400 and $1000 for the passenger side.

The following figures are for a single airbag.

Considering the labor charges, you may anticipate between $1000 and $6000, depending on the manufacturer and model of the vehicle.

And that is just for one airbag. Another aspect to consider is the airbag itself.

The passenger airbag is more expensive than the driver’s side airbag.

Here are a few more elements to consider if you are looking for further information.

1. Where I Purchase

The cost of airbags is influenced by where you buy them.

You have two alternatives:

  • Your mechanic
  • Online sources

The first choice is to put your faith in your mechanic and let him do the work.

He might have a contract with one or more of his own sources and suppliers, after all.

This would cost you the same amount as previously mentioned, as well as labor costs.

Online merchants are another low-cost alternative.

The problem of quality arises.

You can not buy from them unless you trust the source, because you could receive a bad item.

Then, suppose you have a faulty product.

Who would fix it?

You could accomplish it if you have the skills, but you would have to revert to your mechanic if you do not.

He/she may not be willing to do it because of the quality.

You will also have to pay wages for the technicians.

2. Where I Get The Work Done

Replacement costs will be far greater than you anticipate, for two reasons: the longevity of a vehicle’s life and labor expenses.

And this is once again determined by the car’s make and model.

Fewer airbags might be more complicated than traditional ones, costing more to replace.

Furthermore, the number of airbags deployed and the work necessary on the automobile influence cost.

3. Other Parts Involved

When your airbags need to be replaced, it is not just the one component that is affected.

If required, other elements connected with its operation should also be inspected and changed, which will most likely necessitate doing so.

3-1. The Airbag Control Module

The impact sensor on this module is the only one that most cars do not allow you to reset manually.

If you swap the airbag without also replacing the module, the entire system will fail in a collision, and all that money will be for naught.

3-2. Seat Belt Components

These days, seatbelts on most vehicles are pre-tensioned.

The buckle has a pre-tensioner, which tightens just before the airbag deploys for additional protection.

This, like the airbags, is only effective once.

As a result, when you replace the airbags, you will have to replace the seat belt components such as a retractor and buckle.

3-3. Connectors And Wiring

You might want your mechanic to inspect the connections and wiring for signs of damage caused by the airbag’s deployment.

Counterfeit Airbags

A fake airbag is a risk during a collision, but you can not always rely on your airbags to save you.

A phony component might prevent the airbag from deploying or doing so later than it should or even deploying incorrectly.

Whatever the situation may be, you will ultimately pay more in terms of treatment and repair for the vehicle as a result of this fraud.

Make sure you are getting an OEM airbag from a reputable supplier and not some other company’s knock-off.

If you have any worries about your passenger-side airbag, do not put it off any longer.

If you wait, your car will eventually break down, and when it does, you will have to pay for costly repairs.

However, if you replace the airbags immediately, you may be able to avoid tragedy.

They would provide a list of suggested automobile repair businesses where the airbags would be replaced during the insurance claim procedure.

If you discover any fraudulent activity involving a counterfeit airbag, contact your insurance provider about having it looked at again.

If you bought it over the internet, you have little recourse but to pursue protection under buyer protection programs if one exists.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is My Car Considered The Totaled Once Airbag Deploys?

A vehicle is not always totaled when the airbag goes off. It depends on a variety of factors, including whether there are other issues with the car and how old it is.

The value of the replacement is greater than that of the automobile in situations where cars get older.

Insurance companies prefer to total the car rather than finance the replacement in such instances.

If your automobile is only a few years old and has fewer than 50,000 miles on the odometer, they may opt for replacement if it is still fixable.

Can I Replace An Airbag Myself?

If you are a mechanic or a professional, you can try to replace the airbags yourself.

However, the airbags must come from reputable sources or manufacturers and not be purchased on the internet.

I would still recommend that you talk to an authorized dealer or a repair shop as advised by your insurance.

Why does Airbag fail During The Crash?

The deployment of an airbag is determined by a variety of criteria, such as the severity of the impact, speed, crash sensor position, and so on.

In all events, the airbags do not deploy.

The following are some examples of when the airbag would not deploy.

  • If the seatbelt alone can keep you safe without requiring an airbag.
  • The frontal and side airbags will not deploy if there is no passenger or someone who is small such as a child in the co-drivers seat.
  • There may be an airbag in the case of a pre-owned automobile.


The airbags may be used after inflation in a vehicle.

However, I recommend that you do not do so.

The airbags are the only things that can save you from a horrible death or terrible life scenario if there is an accident.

But are there any laws requiring you to have airbags? Again, the law does not demand it of you.

Airbags deploy at a tremendous rate and are solid when they hit the ground.

The deployment itself might harm you if you do not use good posture and buckle up your seatbelt.

There are up to 9 airbags deployed throughout the vehicle, depending on the make and model.

It is possible that they will all deploy simultaneously or not at all.

The frontal or side bags may be deployed alone to protect the passengers based on the accident.

Once deployed, airbags are useless and must be replaced, which is a costly operation.

Replacing an airbag costs at least $1000.

As a result, if your vehicle is becoming old, most insurance companies want you to replace it rather than fix it.


Jeffrey Bryce is an experienced motorcycle rider with years of experience caring for motorcycles. His natural fondness for motorcycles have made him come up with, which is dedicated to answering and teaching you how to care for your bike with the care it requires. LetsGoForARide is the one of his important lifework in reaching out to communities of motorcycle enthusiasts on how to take care of their bike and choosing the correct spare part.