Replacing air bags

My son recently had a mishap with his 2002 Saturn SL. There was little damage done, but the air bags deployed and replacing them would cost more than the car is worth. (We did not have collision on insurance). Used air bags are available on ebay much cheaper, but I’m wondering if it is advisable to go that route if they are installed by a qualified mechanic. Apparently used air bags are not sold in NY where we live. It just seems a shame to scrap this car when so little else is wrong with it. My son can fix the rest himself.

I don’t think I’d feel safe installing one that was bought on EBay, but I personally would feel comfortable installing one from a local boneyard. I don’t know if it’s illegal in NY, but you may want to call around.

NY salvage yards won’t sell them. Not sure if it’s a liability issue or illegal or both. We’d have to find one out of state and probably have it installed out of state as well.

50% chance those used air bags are stolen.

And 50% that they are not. So is true of every other part sold on e-bay. So what are people to do?

There is a real good chance you will never find a tech or shop willing to install these for you. To much of a liability issue and no one in the business would disagree.

Is there some reason why the air bags must be replaced? I drove many years in many cars with out them. If it is a choice between scraping an otherwise good car and driving without air bags,well you do have the seat belts.

This would work here in AZ where having an illumunated air bag light is not a reason to fail any kind of test.

Collision coverage on your insurance would not make a difference. Insurance companies do not pay when the cost of repairs exceed the value of the car, they total the car and give you book value. I agree that there should be no reason to not drive the car without air bags unless, being original equipment, they are required to pass NY inspection. My wife ad I spent may years driving without air bags (icluding raising and teaching to drive 2 children), or for that matter, seat belts (I started with a 29 Model A Ford, thru a 46 Dodge 3/4 ton Power Wagon, 56 DeSoto, etc.) I would NOT recommend a “used” air bag. It has been known that some “used” air bags sold in various venues are actually just the shells stuffed with rags. Oldmotorist

Check There are hundreds of salvage yards outside of NY that will ship them to you. Others will not ship due to the supposedly hazardous nature of the cargo. Note that they won’t explode unless they are set up with all the correct voltage and capacitance, so that’s not a real concern. As far as finding someone to install them, call around. Body shops do it every day. I’ve replaced dozens of them, all used. I’ve never bought any off of ebay, and I’ve never bought any that were stuffed with rags.

Also note that while the outer structure of the Saturn may look very good due to the “springy” nature of the plastic panels, the underpinnings may be bent. Have someone who knows what they are looking at give you an honest opinion.

The concern with air bags going off at an undesired time is simply something to be aware of. At times I get the impression that people think there is a a bottle of nitrogyclerin in the air bag and the slightest bump sets this thing off. Air bags are very safe BUT since they do involve the use of what could best be described as a propellant they get lumped into the same catagory as a stick of dynamite.

Air bags go off at the wrong time when someone makes a mistake and somehow crosses wires up and provides the air bag with the required voltage to set it off, you really have to work hard at getting a air bag to go off unintentionally. Some mechanics seem to have figured out through incompeteance how to cause this to happen.

When the air bag light is ON, the bags will not pop. It’s referred to as “failsafe mode”. If the light goes out after the system performs its circuit check, the the bags are OK and set to pop in the event of an accident. The wiring is all color coded plug-ins. It would be very difficult to get any wires crossed. I’ve never heard of an airbag popping at any time other than in an accident. IT ONLY HAPPENS IN THE MOVIES. Cars going over cliffs always explode in a ball of flames when they go over cliffs in the movies too. Usually it’s about half way down, in midair. It’s very entertaining, but very unlifelike.

I have seen automaticly deployed roll bars (in a Z3) deploy but the tech had bypassed deployment circuitry. I have never seen an airbag deploy in the shop (unless we were setting them off intentionaly,as you cannot ship them in an “active” state) but there sure are endless warnings in the FSM about something that as you say “only happens in the movies”.

Try going to an out of state repair shop for the bags. The air bags are a huge liability issue for some states. Seems unfair but the electronics only fire once and if they fail and cause an injury the cost is on the installer.

Don’t buy this type of stuff from Ebay. Simple.