Has your car endured a significant impact that caused airbag deployment, or have you purchased a car without an airbag and would like to install one?
Airbag replacement can cost between $200 and $700 for the driver’s side and $400 for the passenger’s side.
The average cost of airbag replacement will be between $3000 and $5000, with labor costs included.
This article will walk you through all the critical aspects of an airbag, how it works, and the cost implications of replacing or installing one. Let’s get right into it.
What Is An Airbag?
An airbag is a car’s important safety device that is meant to inflate during the event of a strong impact, such as a car crash.
An airbag aims to protect the occupants’ bodies and prevent direct collision with the steering wheel and the dashboard.
How Does An Airbag Work?
Before we look at how an airbag works, it’s essential to know some of an airbag’s critical components. An airbag has three parts which are:
- An inflatable bag
- An Impact sensor
- An Inflation system
An airbag is made of thin nylon fabric, folded and fitted in a strategic position either inside a steering wheel, a dashboard, the door, or a seat.
The sensor sends an inflation signal to the airbag when a strong impact, such as a car crash, occurs.
When the inflation system receives the signal, a chemical reaction occurs between sodium azide and potassium nitrate resulting in the formation of nitrogen gas.
The gas generates pressure causing the airbag to inflate.
Once the car occupants body comes into contact with the inflated airbag, nitrogen gas begins to sip out of the airbag through the tiny holes on its surface.
The airbag eventually deflates. All these events take place in less than a second.
The airbag cushions the car occupants against fatal injuries to the head and the upper body, which is an important safety feature to prevent death and severe injuries.
The initial airbag concept confined airbags to the driver’s and passenger’s sides, but modern cars come with multiple airbags such as side, curtain, and knee airbags.
When an airbag is deployed, a powdery substance made from cornstarch or talcum powder is released.
The purpose of the white substance is to keep the airbag flexible and lubricated when being stored and ease the deployment process.
4 Factors Affecting The Cost Of Airbag Replacement
As we saw earlier, the cost of airbag replacement falls somewhere between $1000 and $6000 while buying an airbag ranges between $200 and $700.
Why the cost variation? Many factors affect the cost of airbag replacement, such as:
1. Where To Buy
Just like any other product, how much you pay for an airbag will largely depend on where you choose to buy.
You can buy one online from the manufacturers or purchase from a junkyard. Prices and quality will vary from one seller to another.
Buying directly from the manufacturers will reduce the cost by cutting the middlemen. It will also come with additional benefits such as guaranteed quality and warranty.
Your mechanic can recommend a reliable supplier, or you could get referrals from friends and relatives.
Airbag replacement needs to be done by a qualified mechanic, which does not come cheap.
You could get referrals from friends, or the manufacturer can send one along with the airbag. Most manufactures will charge you an additional cost per hour for the mechanic.
Usually, airbag replacement will take one to two hours to get the job done.
You can negotiate with the manufacturer to charge you considerably or bring your friends to refer you to an affordable mechanic.
3. Parts Being Replaced
It’s worth noting that other parts may be involved when replacing an airbag, which could increase the cost.
Components such as the airbag control module, which houses the sensor, maybe replaced along with the airbag.
Most airbag sensors are meant for single-use and cannot be reset, which calls for complete replacement.
Wiring connections may also be damaged during airbag deployment and may need to be replaced.
You may also need to replace seat belt retractors which hold the car’s occupants tightly during the airbag deployment process.
If the seat belt retractors are not returned, they may not offer additional protection if the airbag is deployed in the future.
The dashboard may be damaged during deployment on the passenger’s seat, and the seat covers may also tear during the process.
This means the extra cost of repairing the dashboard and the seat covers.
4. Number Of Airbags Being Deployed
Originally, airbags were fitted only on the driver’s and passenger’s seats, but modern vehicles come with additional airbags such as curtain, knee, and side airbags.
If you want a clear picture of how much you will pay for the entire airbag replacement process, take the cost of one airbag and multiply it by the number of airbags being replaced.
The more the number of airbags being replaced means that the mechanic will take longer to complete the job than it would take to replace one.
If you are paying on hourly terms, you will pay extra for the whole process. You can negotiate with the mechanic to give you a good discount.
If you still have unanswered questions regarding airbag replacement, you could make use of this section. I have tried as much as possible to answer any further questions you may be having:
Can I Drive A Car Without Airbags?
It’s not safe to drive a car without airbags because your body will not be protected from the impact in the event of a car crash.
Your vehicle will not also pass safety inspection without having a fully functioning airbag, depending on your state.
It may also be challenging to sell a car without working airbags, leave alone driving one.
Are There Situations Where Replacing The Airbag May Be Unnecessary?
Although an airbag is a critical safety device, there are unique situations where airbag replacement may be unnecessary, such as:
- When the cost of replacing an airbag may be more than the total value of the car.
- The airbag replacement process may take longer, leaving you with no means of transportation.
- When the airbag replacement process requires other extensive repairs.
- If you plan to sell your car soon.
Can I Replace My Airbags?
You do not require any authorization to replace your car’s airbags. If you have the necessary experience and technical knowledge, you can save the labor cost and replace the airbag yourself.
However, it’s essential to seek qualified mechanic’s services to do the job if you don’t know.
The airbag replacement process requires training and experience because if it’s not done correctly, you may be putting yourself at risk.
You may also accidentally deploy the airbag when installing, leading to total wastage of time and money.
Check this out:
An airbag is an essential component of your car’s safety system.
When a vehicle crashes, the airbag inflates to protect your head and upper body against a direct collision with the steering wheel and the dashboard.
When an airbag is deployed during a car crash, it needs to be replaced. You also need to install an airbag if you buy a car without one.
Airbag replacement comes at a cost that is mainly dependent on where you purchase, cost of labor, other parts that need to be replaced, such as the dashboard, sensor, and the number of airbags being replaced.
You can replace the airbags if you have the technical knowledge or hire a qualified mechanic’s services to install the airbag properly and give you the necessary protection in the event of a car crash.