Passenger air bag question


#1

I had the occasion to drive my wife’s car, a 2006 Passat. After mucking around for a while, I learned that you can’t release the parking brake if the foot brake pedal isn’t depressed. Fair enough. But then i saw the “passenger Air Bag OFF” light. Got out the manual and noted the bag was off if no one was sitting in the seat. OK, fair enough again, but WHY? Why bother turning the bag on and off? Why not just leave the bag on and save a few dollars in manufacture? I think it may have to do with a child’s car seat, and maybe you don’t want the bag if a kid seat is in place.


#2

Yes, it has to do with a child’s car seat–even though those objects shouldn’t be in the front anyway.
And, it also has to do with an adult/young adult/child who is very small in stature sitting in the front seat and being injured by an airbag.

On most modern cars, the passenger has to be above a certain weight (about 95-100 lbs IIRC) in order for the front passenger airbag to be “active”. The weight sensor in the passenger seat determines whether the airbag is “active” or not.

However, it also has to do with the expense involved in replacing an airbag after it deploys.
These devices are fairly expensive, and if one deploys to protect a non-existent passenger, the needless expense of replacing it is not something that you want to have to deal with.


#3

I agree with @VDCdriver, on both points. Add to the damage if a passenger side bag deploys; say goodby to your dashboard and windshield. They will both be destroyed because the bag rips the dash cover and uses the windshield for frontside support. The drivers side has the steering wheel for support. The repair costs triple to quadruple if the passenger side bag deploys.


#4
And, it also has to do with an adult/young adult/child who is very small in stature sitting in the front seat and being injured by an airbag.

That’s the only reason. When air-bags were first introduced there was no sensor. But small kids were severely injured if the air-bag deployed during a accident. So now has to have a certain weight on the seat to enable to air-bag.


#5

I also read that some cars don’t activate the passenger air bag if the seat belt isn’t fastened, because crashing into an exploding air bag can kill you. That doesn’t sound right to me. Does anyone know? 2002 Sienna.


#6

I agree. There were some terrible injuries and death(s) to small kids riding in the passenger seat with the full force of air bag going off and hitting them in the wrong place. So there is a weight limit to prevent them from going off.


#7

Airbags, when first mandated had to protect the driver whether they were belted or not. These higher powered bags caused injury and death in small drivers, usually women, sitting close to the wheel. In cars with passenger bags, some children were killed by the high powered bags. The force was allowed to be reduced in '98 so that the combination of bag and belt were used together to meet standard.


#8

Airbags were ALWAYS designed as a secondary restraint system. NEVER a primary system. But they saved peoples lives who weren’t wearing their seatbelts.

The reason people were injured or killed was because of the speed of the airbags deployment. The very first air-bags were too slow. The ones that were first introduced in cars were too fast for some people (usually small children).


#9

“But they saved peoples lives who weren’t wearing their airbags.”

I know what you meant, but now I can’t get this image out of my brain.


#10
"But they saved peoples lives who weren't wearing their airbags."

I know what you meant, but now I can’t get this image out of my brain.

I EDITED my post…wearing their SEATBELTS…

I can’t even imagine what wearing an airbag would look like.


#11

Ahh a new business idea targeted to people afraid to drive. Inflatable driving suits to protect from all hazards and injuries. Could be another model for bikers, etc.


#12

You only need to ask:


#13

Airbags, when first mandated, were required to protect an unbelted 50th percentile man because seatbelt use was less than 25 percent per FMVSS 208.


#14

"I can’t even imagine what wearing an airbag would look like."
I can. Now every morning when I look in the mirror this post will pop into my mind…


#15
Ahh a new business idea targeted to people afraid to drive. Inflatable driving suits to protect from all hazards and injuries. Could be another model for bikers, etc.

I remember hearing a comedian–kvetching about all the safety doo-dads–who queried: “why don’t we just make the whole world out of Nerf?”


#16

even tho I have long legs, I sit with the seat pulled all the way forward because of my back problems. does this make me likely to be injured by an airbag?


#17

“because of my back problems”

Welcome to the club, man


#18

lol, I m a longtime member. I know where the expression “pain in the ass” came from, sciatica.


#19

I have a different kind of bad back . . . scoliosis


#20

sorry bud. I am also a crooked man. lost 2 inches so far…

I look like a freakin’ cartoon character with my shirt tucked in, long legs and short body