Airbag reliability


For how many years is it reasonable to expect an airbag to function properly? Does the fabric lose integrity after x number of years? Do the gas cartridges lose charge after a time? Do the sensors that initiate deployment become less reliable after an amount of time has past?




No one really knows. Well, maybe they do but they aren’t tellng us.

Airbag systems are presumed to be good indefinitely. The system undergoes a self-check each time you start the car. If the dash light goes out then your electricals, at least, are OK. The chemicals and fabric can’t really be tested without destroying the system, but we’ve heard no complaints about deteriation over time. In addition, the government’s NHTSA appears satisfied.


This came up on the old boards. If I recall correctly someone stated that Volvo tested airbags that were 10 years old & found that they still worked as designed.

Guessing they will test again at 15 & 20 years.


They will last as long as the car they are installed in. There are no “gas cartridges”, the bags are inflated by an explosive charge. As long as the “air-bag” dash light comes on when you turn on the key and goes off in a few seconds, the system can be expected to work. With 20 year old cars, air-bag reliability is no longer an issue. The people who drive these vehicles just want cheap transportation…Besides, the seatbelts are still the PRIMARY restraint system. At 70mph, NOTHING makes ANY difference in the crash outcome except luck…


This is a funny question, because I’ve never heard of any longevity testing on airbags.

But, for anecdotal evidence, my brother was in an accident in a 10 year old Nissan Altima. Funny thing was he rear-ended our older sister. Airbags went off, but only dribbled out of the casing, never really inflated. They totaled his car, and repaired our sister’s car. He wound up buying it from her, and she went out and bought a new car.


No one knows. I suggest you consider the airbag a “supplemental restraint system,” which is what it is (hence the SRS acronym), and rely on the good old SEAT BELT to save you hide in the event of an accident.

Airbags only inflate under a limited set of circumstances, and are designed for only those situations (head-on, or near-head-on, collisions). Seat belts, on the other hand work well in almost all situations. You can disable my airbags and I won’t complain, but you will NOT take away my seat belts.


Thanks to all. Very informative.