Replacing Air Bags

I am wondering if I should get the car fixed. I was in an accident and the air bags deployed, the windshield is cracked and the front headlight needs to be replaced. I do not have collision insurance so I would be paying out of pocket. Some people have said that when the air bags deploy it is too costly to fix. The is a 2002. It has about 83,000 miles on it and I still owe $2,300.00 on it.

Rita, Apparently You Decided To Save Money By Not Buying Collision Insurance.

You gambled and lost. I have collision coverage on all my cars because I’m not good at gambling. You possibly made a good bet by not having collision coverage, depending on how high your premiums would be.

A cracked windshield and air bag deployment are not good things. I’d bet you need more than a windshield, air bags and headlight, lots more. You no doubt have a car that is totalled, possibly two times over.

The reality of the situation:
Now you have a situation where you have a totalled car and owe $2,300 on it and you need to buy a car. All you can do is pay it off and sell the car “as is” or for salvage, for whatever you can get. Then go car shopping.

When you gamble, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. I guess you’ll have to take all that money you saved by not having collision insurance and spend some of it.

Is the car driveable? Rita, just for more infomation, take the car to a couple of collision (or auto body) shops that give free estimates and get the estimates. Discuss them with the shops. That will give you a clearer picture of your options.


For a 2002 Cavalier consider it a total likely.

You may want to visit one or two body shops and see how little it can be fixed and reassess. Good luck.

Replacing air-bags can be very expensive…There could be other hidden damage also.

As for not collision insurance…I usually keep CI until the car is too old to not be worth it anymore. You have to decide if the car is worth just throwing away if you get in an accident…If it’s NOT then you should get CI. A car that’s only 7 years old probably is worth keeping so I think you lost on this one. Last car I didn’t have CI on was my wifes 87 Accord…when it was 9 years old and had 305k miles on it.

A 2002 WHAT? It maks a difference as to the expense of used air bags and whether or not the sensors will re-set or need to be replaced after an impact.

I’m surprised that the lender let you get away without carrying full coverage, with them named as a loss payee. I’ll bet your contract with them says you’ll have it. Note that if you think it’s a good idea to “let the car go back to the bank” AKA be reposessed, you will be making a big mistake. The lender can, and probably will, sue you to collect whatever is still owed after they sell the car for salvage and collect their “expenses” for reposessing it from you. If you don’t pay, you will be in contempt of court. Read your contract.

That said, approach several body shops with the stipulation that you are willing to let them install used parts. They may even find parts of the same color to save painting, if there are body parts damaged. If the airbags popped, I’ll bet there is more damage that just the headlight. What’s damaged behind the headlight? Call some glass shops and explain that your windshield is not covered by insurance. There are at least three in my area that will replace MOST windshields for under $120. New air bags cost more than most 2002s are worth. Used ones can be had for under $300 in many cases. Some shops don’t want the liability of installing used airbags, but I can assure you it’s done all the time. I don’t think your car will have explosive seat belt tensioners. It’s a little too old. Once those blow you have to replace the belts. That gets expensive, even used. Do the seatbelts still seem to extend and retract normally? Without belts and airbags you car is not safe to drive, but you knew that.

Repair the car so it’s drivable and forget the airbags…

If there’s really nothing else mechanically wrong besides windshield and headlight, I would just fix those 2 items and drive it without the airbags. The windshield and headlight would not cost much.

Many states (I think it might be Federal)…it’s against the law…Won’t pass safety inspection.

TAGS: Below The Question Indicates It’s A Chevrolet Cavalier.

Have you had the car checked thoroughly for damage? It’s hard to believe that a collision hard enough to deploy the airbags didn’t affect more than the windshield and headlight.

Is that the opinion of a professional body shop or is that the conclusion that you came to by yourself. Having worked in a body shop myself for a few years, I can tell you that if you hit something hard enough so that the air bags deployed chances there’s more damage that just a headlight and a windshield.

You Sir, Are Extremely Wise.
This car is toast.

We still don’t know if it runs or drives.

Correct, FoDaddy.

The driver is lucky to be alive.


Windshield break usually due to air bags hitting them in old school air bag design. Cavalier definitely qualifies in “old school design”.

With collision you really have to look at (insurance) book value of vehicle. No matter what happens they will never pay more than a vehicle is worth to repair it. You simply get a check for the current book and haul your car off.

I figure once a car is worth $3000 or less I drop collision.

The car still runs fine. I have a quote for used air bags: 2 airbags at 75.00 each, computer is 125.00 and the upper dash pad is 150.00. The mechanic took the last 8 digits of my VIN and they call the dealership for the price of a censor. The price was 400.00. But there is another part they would have to get and I can’t remember what that was.

It will be $1000 before that “airbag” warning light goes out…If you don’t need a safety inspection or if airbags are not part of the inspection, I would live without them. Your seatbelt is your PRIMARY crash protection…