Safety: Airbags too sensitive, deploy too easily in certain accidents like hitting a deer

edit: I was told this is a radar unit, not an airbag sensor. I’m glad Toyota isn’t doing this. If you search online for deer collisions that deployed airbags, and you move past all the talk from people who think they can sue and get rich because their airbag didn’t deploy and blow their hands away from the steering wheel after a deer hit, you may that many of the deployed airbag cases involve Ford or Subaru.

Saw a 2009 Ford Fusion at the junk yard. Same thing. The airbag sensor is mounted right under the front of the hood in the middle, just behind the grille.

This a danger as a normally non dangerous crash like hitting a deer can cause the airbags to deploy, which is a dangerous thing when driving at high speed. Minor accidents where the front of the hood of a car gets hit are very common.

Are car makers doing this to make their cars get totaled out more easily?

Here we go again with another one of your zero fact based statements .

The nerve of those vehicle manufactures not consulting with you first.


My kid rear ended a suv with high mounted spare and punched in hood. Airbag did not deploy. There ya go. Not sensitive enough.

Are you freaking kidding me??? Down here in the south our deer’s take out windshields all the time and have totaled the vehicles out…
Almost every night we see 10-20 Deer grazing/passing through our yard… So if you hit a deer that causes minor damage then you were going really slow or just hit little Bambi…

Adult males (bucks) weigh an average of 120–160 pounds, while females (does) average 80–120 pounds

You think it should have deployed? Was he injured?

Why not put the airbag sensor in the windshield then? If the deer hits the hood it’s going to smash the hood and get flung up over the windshield. If it jumps it can mostly miss the hood completely so having the airbag sensor there doesn’t help.

They could put it in the back. Not all cars have airbag sensors in remote locations. Some just have them in the airbag control unit.

Yes, the airbags need to deploy early on in a crash before the occupants move too close to the airbags. Putting airbag sensors up in the front, one on each side, somewhere behind the bumper as many vehicles do must help determine if there is a real accident instead of running in to snow or barrels or something where the airbags shouldn’t deploy. But doing this isn’t mandatory. Putting a sensor in such a soft spot in the grille is going way too far in my opinion. I would not buy a car where a deer hit that smashed my hood would deploy the airbag.

Yes it is better. I see nothing wrong with airbag systems which have all of the front impact sensors contained within the airbag control unit. But I’m willing to learn more about why some designs do it this way versus having sensors behind the bumper.

The 1992-1996 Camry puts them under the front of the upper radiator support on each side. If that area gets smashed the car is probably totaled anyway and the accident is more than a fender bender. The next Camry put them on top of the frame rails just behind the bumper mounts. Seems a low speed crash that under rode someone’s rear bumper would either deploy the airbags too soon, or worse it would dislodge the airbag sensors and prevent them from working in a secondary collision accident.

Please cite all facts that back up your claim.

If a frog had wings it would not bump it’s ass every time it jumped now would it??
There are NO perfect answers/solutions to every problem…

You could always install a cow catcher on the front of your vehicle and never have to worry about any kind of front end damage again, heck while you are at it just build an exoskeleton for your vehicle and really be safe… I also hear a Funnycar or Nascar cage is very strong, you can hit the wall at over 150 MPH even barrel roll or flip end over end at speeds over 150 MPH with little to no damage to you, lots of times you can walk away :muscle: I think those ideas would be very safe when ever hitting a deer… :wink:


The radar sensor on the Rav4 is for the pre-collision system/auto braking system and cruise control, it cannot set off an airbag.

There is also a safing sensor in the airbag control unit, there must be sufficient g forces in the collision to trigger the safing sensor, the front collision sensors alone will not cause an airbag to deploy.


No it is not.

I’m not. All I need to know is that I have more trust in a team of dedicated engineers whose job it is to design safety systems than a guy on a forum somewhere who thinks cars were safer 30 years ago.


Nevada is correct on both counts, but I’m sure that accurate info will not faze the second person to whom he was responding.

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It’s not an impact switch, it’s an accelerometer that is measuring the rate of deceleration (for frontal airbags). It doesn’t matter if you hit a pile of rocks or a pile of pillows. If the rate of deceleration exceeds the predefined rate which would injure the occupant, then the airbag will deploy.


I’m glad to hear that Toyota hasn’t gone along with this nonsense that I saw on the 09 Fusion.

Apparently this sensor is quite sensitive if a deer can trip it. It probably activates at something really low like 2g negative acceleration. That means the deer would have to push 6000 pounds of force on to a 3000 pound car to activate that sensor.

It does if the airbag sensor itself is in an area of the vehicle that gets smashed in in a collision. If a baseball moving at 80 MPH hits the airbag sensor, that sensor will very briefly register an 80 MPH collision, until whatever the sensor is mounted to stops it from moving.

Ins co did write off car. I fixed it. New hood, rad, core support. Yes, I think bag should have blown.

How much were the medical bills?

OK, let’s get back to reality. The airbag sensor is located behind some fairly rigid structures for this exact reason. A baseball is not going to have any effect on the accelerometer attached to a mass 3,000 times bigger than the baseball. If it hits your grille emblem, you may not have forward crash detection but that is not going to deploy your airbag.

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I’m not against air bags, or seat belts, or padded dashes, etc. etc., I just find it a little extreme to have such a fixation on air bags. For many years we drove cars sans these devices and survived. I really think it is time to step back and think about taking responsibility for your own safety and realize that all risks in life cannot be eliminated lest we live in cocoons.

Cars today are built much better to survive impacts. Cars from the 50s and 60s folded up like tin cans. And they had zero safety devices. So, todays cars are better and have 12 airbags and folks complain about bag sensitivity?

You survived, I did also, and a lot of other people survived, but many others did not. Unfortunately, those who died can’t express themselves on this topic.

In addition to saving lives, seat belts and air bags have helped to reduce serious injuries. One of my elementary school classmates survived a major crash during the pre-seat belt era, but the extreme scarring of one side of his face made him look like a totally different person if you looked at him from “the wrong side”. Trust me, it wasn’t pretty, and his poor father walked around with a major sense of guilt for the rest of his life because of the horrific scarring that his son suffered while Dad was behind the wheel.

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Well just the reverse. Cars of yesteryear were rigid transferring impact to the occupants. Cars today are designed to crush, thus absorbing much of the impact.

Yes yes. People died and became disfigured flying around inside the cabin, going through windshields, or the engine and tranny impaling them inside. Point is do people relying on air bags make them better drivers or worse drivers thinking the air bags will save them?