What will you see after an airbag inflates?
What makes an airbag inflate?
When should an airbag inflate?
After an airbag inflates, it quickly deflates, so
quickly that some people may not even realize the airbag
inflated. Some components of the airbag module, the
steering wheel hub for the drivers airbag, or the passenger side
airbag may be hot for a short time. The parts of the bag
that come in contact with you may be warm, but not too hot to
touch. There will be some smoke and dust coming from the
vents in the deflated airbags. Airbag inflation does not
prevent the driver from seeing out the windshield or being able
to steer the vehicle, nor does it stop people from leaving the
In an impact of sufficient severity, the airbag
sensing system detects that the vehicle is in a crash. The
sensing system triggers a release of gas from the inflator,
which inflates the airbag. The inflator, airbag, and
related hardware are all a part of the airbag modules inside the
steering wheel and in the instrument panel in front of the right
The driver's and right front passenger's frontal
airbags are designed to inflate in moderate to severe frontal or
near-frontal collisions. But they are designed to inflate
only if the impact exceeds a predetermined deployment threshold.
Deployment thresholds take into account a variety of desired
deployment and non-deployment events and are used to predict how
severe a collision is likely to be in time for the airbags to
inflate and help restrain the occupants. Whether your
frontal airbags will or should deploy is not based on how fast
your vehicle is traveling. It depends largely on what you
hit, the direction of the impact, and how quickly your vehicle
How does an airbag
In moderate to severe
frontal or near-frontal collisions, even belted occupants can
contact the steering wheel or the instrument panel.
Airbags supplement the protection provided by safety belts.
Airbags distribute the force of the impact more evenly over the
occupant's upper body, stopping the occupant more gradually.
But, airbags would not help you in many types of collisions,
including rollovers, rear impacts and many side impacts,
primarily because an occupant's motion is not toward those
airbags. Airbags should never be regarded as anything more
than a supplement to safety belts, and then only in moderate to
severe frontal or near-frontal collisions.