Checking A Used Car's Safety Systems: All About Airbags

When looking for a used car, one thing that is frequently overlooked is the condition of the airbag. Most buyers assume that the airbag is in good working order, but that may not always be the case. Unscrupulous sellers have been known to sell cars that have faulty airbags or no airbag at all:

How to Tell if the Airbag Has Been Deployed

First, ask the seller pointed questions about accidents the car has been involved in. Some vehicle sellers will provide a copy of the vehicle history report, or you can purchase one yourself from a service. Your mechanic can also tell you if the airbag has been deployed, even if it has been cleverly disguised.

Inspect The Airbag Cover

The airbag cover splits when the airbag is deployed. This can be repaired, so check the cover carefully by sight and feel for unevenness. Also look for any signs the cover has been repainted. A repainted cover will look newer than the rest of the interior. The cover should have the manufacturer's emblem as well as the letters SRS on it. The lack of these logos may indicate that the cover is simply cosmetic and there is no airbag.

Inspect the Dashboard

Both the driver's side and passenger side airbags deploy at the same time, and the passenger side airbag splits the dash. Look for signs that the dashboard has been replaced or repaired.

Engage the Airbag Indicator Light

To check the airbag indicator light, the key should be turned to the first position. This will turn on all the indicator lights and check them automatically. The airbag light should come on and go back out quickly. If it stays on or starts flashing, there is an airbag problem.

How To Read the Flashing Lights

The flashing lights indicate codes. There are 53 airbag diagnostic codes. The light will flash a certain number of times, then pause and flash again. Write down the number of flashes for each, for example, 2 flashes then 1 is code 21, which indicates the airbag may not be properly mounted. Your mechanic will have a list of all the codes and be able to tell you exactly what is wrong when he inspects the car.

Repairing or replacing an airbag system is best done by a specialist, and can be costly, so it's always better to be safe than sorry. A reputable used car dealer will not try to deceive you about the condition of the car you are purchasing, especially the safety features. A car is an investment, so spending the money to have your own mechanic check the car before you sign on the dotted line is the best way to protect yourself.

To learn more, contact a company like Kar Connection if you have other questions.