I’m shopping for a low-miles, 8 to 10-year-old Acura, Lexus, BMW or similar. Assuming there are no related tech buletins on a specific car, is there any general issue with the reliability of air bags of that age? Particluarly, corrosion of contacts or leakage of the gas charge?
Nope, they’re pretty much life-of-the-car items, especially only at 8-10 years.
VW or Volvo, can’t remember which, used to recommend owners of their cars take the vehicle to the dealer to check the function of their air bags after something like 10 or 12 years. This check consisted of turning the key on to make sure the light came on and went off. Air bags have been around since the '80s and are much better understood now. They pretty much last until something detonates them. I have set off 20+ year old air bags (which has to be done before they can be discarded) and they worked perfectly.
There is no gas charge. They are inflated by a pyrotechnic (explosive) device…The bag material, tightly sealed, should last for decades…
I have not heard of any failures due to age. As long as the actual unit isn’t physically damaged, it should be fine. If the airbag diagnostic light comes on when you turn the key, then goes out like it should, the electronics are doing their job as well.
When air bags were first intruduced, there was an industry-wide concern about their ability to deploy effectively as they aged. NTSB issued a recommendation that they be checked or replaced every 10 years. Since that time, accident data has shown that airbags deploy effectively to well over ten years of age. It’s generally accepted now that airbags can be relied uypon for the life of the vehicle.
I have set off 20+ year old air bags (which has to be done before they can be discarded) and they worked perfectly.
This sounds like fun.