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2003 BMW 525i seat covers trigger airbags?

Hi everybody,
I have a 2003 BMW 525i where the driver’s side seat leather is wearing out due to the car’s age. Putting in new leather is out of the question ($$$), so I thought of some nice seat covers. When I asked the dealer about which ones they recommend, their answer was that they stopped selling them quite a while ago because they trigger the air bags.
Has anyone heard about this? Are they blowing smoke? Is this really true?
Thank you!

Rather than “triggering the air bags”, I think it is much more likely that these aftermarket seat covers interfere with the deployment of the side airbags, which are located in the outer side of the seatbacks. Since airbags have to be able to deploy at the exact rate for which they were designed in order to be effective, anything that covers the seat has the potential to interfere with the proper deployment of the side air bags.

Think about it…Would you place a cover over the airbags located in your dashboard?
(Hopefully, your answer is, “no”.)
For the same reasons, it is risky to cover the side airbags that are located in the side of the seatbacks.

For a solution to your problem, I would suggest trying to get a replacement seat from an auto salvage yard
(aka “junkyard”).

I agree with VDCdriver…the vehicle computer uses a complex system of variables to determine if the airbag will deploy. Seat covers cannot do that.

I too agree with VDC. This has been a known problem with aftermarket seat covers on cars with side airbags.

However, some seat cover manufacturers have responded and now make covers specifically designed to not interfer with airbag deployment. It may take some searching, but you might find some for your car.

And, of course, there’s boneyard seats as already mentioned.

There are also aftermarket automotive upholsterers that can repair/replace your seat upholstery. It’ll cost a few bucks, but not as much as a dealer would charge for OEM replacements. Try looking in your area and see what the quotes come to.

Selling seat covers, I know that most can trap a seat side mounted airbag so it can not deploy and are not rcomended…
BUT
If you cannot order airbag-able seat covers, you can modify the ones you buy.

Learn where the air bag is on each seat.
Separate the sewn seam longer than that area.
Add a few pieces of velcro along that seam…not the entire length, just in a few places.- OR-
Use a office style stapler to gently hold that seam. The staples are weak enough to release with the airbag.
Then install the seat covers.

“Use a office style stapler to gently hold that seam. The staples are weak enough to release with the airbags.”

Or, alternatively, the staples might manage to tear the airbag as it deploys.
Is this really something that we should be advising people to do ???

Thank you everybody, this was very helpful!

I can see it now, airbag-safe seat covers…It’s not 1960 anymore…

A lot of online stores have car seat cover that are made specifically for a car with side airbags. I got a set specifically for my Honda-now sold.

Quoting @VDCdriver “Think about it…Would you place a cover over the airbags located in your dashboard?
(Hopefully, your answer is, “no”.)”

How about covering the passenger’s side airbag with the passenger’s feet? I see people doing that all the time. If you can kiss your ankles while standing on the floor, you can probably get away with that without injury during a wreck.

"How about covering the passenger’s side airbag with the passenger’s feet? I see people doing that all the time. "

You just identified one of the sights that confounds me every summer, MG McAnick!

On a regular basis during the warmer months, I see passengers (usually young and female) riding around with the soles of their feet planted on the area of the dashboard from which the passenger airbag deploys, and every time, I wonder…How well is she going to walk after having her legs–and possibly her pelvis–broken when that airbag deploys?

Even if a passenger is ignorant of how dangerous this stunt can be, it really makes me wonder about the drivers who are also ignorant about this practice.