Can you add ABS and side air bags after a car is built?

I bought a 2000 Camry CE for my daughter, but has no abs or side air bags. Can these be added after the fact?

Nope, major revisions would be necessary. Of the two, I’d most want the side air bags, they help a lot in a crash from the side.

Thank you for the quick reply. So are you saying a flat no? Or yes, with major revisions? Have you ever seen this done?


Well, you can do anything, given enough money. You’d likely be money ahead, and certainly safety ahead, to sell the CE and buy one with ABS and side airbags. I imagine most shops won’t touch revisions such as these because of the huge liability involved.

As texases said, it is what it is.

Placing airbags in a car involves extensive crash testing of vehicles in order to find the correct placement of both the sensors that deploy the airbags and the airbags themselves. Fine-tuning the sensitivity of the sensors is also something that is accomplished by crash-testing and analyzing the test data.

Unless you want to spend a couple of million $$ to buy a few identical 2000 Camrys, buy several sets of airbags for the test vehicles, rent a test facility equipped with the proper equipment for a few weeks, hire an SAE engineer or two, and do some other work in order to be able to figure out how to do the airbag installation job correctly, then you cannot do it yourself.

In other words, installing airbags is not like putting a new sideview mirror on your car, or like changing a tire.

As to the ABS, it would be possible, since some Camrys did come with ABS in the 2000 model year. However, the cost of all of the parts and labor would undoubtedly exceed the book value of the car, and it is possible that it would not work properly after you spent all of that money.

Or, in other words–buy a car that is already equipped with the latest safety features if you want to do things in a practical manner.

VDCDriver may be exaggerating the costs, but he is right about getting the proper type of ABS and tuning it to the car. And, of course, the placement of the air bags is also important.

For practical purposes, this is not worth trying to get done.

Thank you to all of you for your replies. I have now abandoned this idea. My daughter will learn how to drive non anti lock brakes, and, well, stay off of high ways. We’ll be ok. Thank you all.

Or yes, with major revisions?

NO it CAN’T be done. Can you add airbags and abs…YES. Can it pass inspection…NO.

There are no aftermarket airbag systems that I know of.

If it can be done I guarantee you it’ll cost more then a brand new Camry…so might as well just buy a new Camry.

My daughter will learn how to drive non anti lock brakes, and, well, stay off of high ways.

There are MANY MANY cars safely being driven every day on the highways without ABS or air-bags…I never had it when I learned how to drive…if you have a daughter that’s old enough to drive then you never had abs or airbags when you learned how to drive.

Actually, she is more likely to be T-boned in local driving than in highway driving, so “staying off of the highways” is no assurance of safety.

I hope that your daughter stays as safe as possible, no matter where she drives.

The answer is NO to both of your questions. This equipment is engineered into the car…You CAN NOT add it on 11 years later…Absolutely impossible…

Buying a NEW Camry would be MUCH cheaper…

The most important safety factor is the attitude of the driver. When my son was a sophomore in college, he did an off-campus term in Appalachian country. He was driving narrow mountain roads in Ford E-350 15 passenger vans with young children. This was the same time that my institution got rid of these E-350 vans because of a roll over accident that killed a student. I visited my son when he was transporting children. He wouldn’t start the engine until everyone had buckled their seatbelt. When I told him the my university as had many other university and churches gotten rid of these vans, my son response was that these vehicles were safe if one used common sense. Through the last 17 years, he has held a public passenger chauffer’s license and has transported children in vans and buses in his work with no accidents. I think emphasizing safety with your daughter and teaching her good driving skills is more important than air bags or abs.

If it’ll give you peace of mind, enroll your daughter in a driver’s safety course. Not only will it help her out, it should help lower her insurance rates as well.