How to verify accuracy of salvage title repairs - airbag


I’m looking at a 2006 Civic SI with 29K miles on it. By CarFax this car was involved in a collision with a guard rail and was totaled out by the insurance company.

The guy who salvaged it, fixed it and wants to sell it to me says the only damage was to the side of the car - left fender, left door and trimmings (air dam and side skirt). He put in a new fender and door and did a fairly poor job of gluing the trim back on - should be 3M double-side tape.

Most importantly he also claims that the side airbag was the only one to deploy and that he replaced it. I had thought that you had to replace the whole seat after the airbag pops out of it. As it doesn’t appear to be a new seat, how can I verify that this, or any of the airbags actually work?

-Skeptical car buyer


I’d avoid this car if it were me. If you are set on buying this car have a independent technican completely check this car out.


Definitely avoid this car-- this guy isn’t being honest. There’s no way the damage he describes would total out a 1 year old Civic.


To answer your question, when you first turn on the key, the “airbag” light should come on. Then, after a few seconds, it will go off. This verifies the system is armed and working. It is very difficult to spoof this system, but a determined fraud artist could do it.

Also, usually, when a car is totaled, pictures are taken. Ask to see those pictures. If the seller can not or will not provide them, walk away from this deal.


There are so many red flags flying around this car it could be in a North Korean sports complex. Don’t walk, RUN away from this car.

If the damage was as minimal as “the guy” says, the car would not have been totaled. The poor job of attaching the trim is just the tip of the iceberg.

You’ll regret it if you buy this one.


If I were selling this car, I’d suggest to the buyer that he have it checked over by a reputable body shop. Expect to pay for this service.

If the airbag light is not on, then it’s probably working. Is that side airbag part of the seat? I know it is on some cars, but I’m not a Honda guy. If so, it is possible that he replaced the entire seat with one from a salvage yard. Some cars have sensors which will re-set. Others must have their sensors replaced. Sometimes those that are supposed to re-set (One Ford that I had) still have to be replaced.

Expect to pay at least 25% less for this car than NADA retail. He’ll probably make a good profit on it at that level. See


I agree with the others; avoid this car.
There is no way an '06 Civic was given a salvage title on damages that minor. He’s lying.