Do All Cars Come With Airbags Today? (Explained)

Modern safety features in the auto industry have improved over the decades. We are now much safer in our cars than ever before.

This is because of basic standard safety features, such as airbags and automatic braking systems (ABS). The more of these safety features a car has, the safer it is for passengers.

Airbags are no mystery in the industry and have been around since the 90s. They protect the head and spine and prevent people from being flung out the front window during a collision.

There are only a few drawbacks with airbags but they can’t surpass the advantages. One notable disadvantage of the airbag is that it is not very safe for children.

Overall, it is best to have airbags in your car to prevent death and decrease injury. Naturally, the more airbags there are in a car, the more they can protect against major bodily harm.

In this article, we delve more into airbags and find out if all cars come with airbags today.

Are Airbags Standard on All New Cars Today?

Frontal airbags are now standard in all new vehicles that are sold today. This stems from a law passed back in 1998 that requires all cars to have frontal airbags.

The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 finally went into effect in 1998. This law saw all passenger cars, SUVs, pickups, and vans requiring frontal airbags by law.

This was overall a great advancement in safety in the automotive industry. It allows for the industry to put emphasis on the safety of passengers in vehicles.

Since the inception of the airbag in the 90s, the technology has been improved. Modern airbags are now found for all the passengers in the vehicle and allow for fewer injuries.

It is now officially illegal to operate a vehicle that does not have airbags installed. This spans all motor vehicles, such as passenger cars and pickup trucks.

Airbags can save lives and numerous crash tests have proven this. When coupled with standard seatbelts, they can minimize injury by up to 26%.
Airbags are most effective during head-on collisions, drastically reducing serious injury to passengers.

When Did Airbags Become Standard on New Cars?

Airbags have been standard for all motor vehicles since 1998 models. This was after a law had been passed that made frontal airbags compulsory.

From 1998, all passenger vehicles produced by manufacturers had to have frontal airbags for increased safety. This is, in addition to properly installed seatbelts for all passengers.

The standard airbag we see today was inspired by the inflatable protective covers on Navy torpedoes. These were quite effective when protecting pilots against injuries from crashes.

Unlike airbags, seatbelts were used in cars since 1966, when the law required all cars to have them. Back then, the seatbelt was not compulsory and only a few people used them.

Later on in the 1980s, the airbag had some traction with more manufacturers installing frontal airbags. Ford, Chrysler, and GM were some of the first to introduce airbags with their models.

Airbag technology faced some problems back in the day regarding safety for children. It was tested and shown that because of their small stature, children would be hurt by the airbag.

When an airbag deploys during a collision, the force is quite strong. For small children, it was argued that the force of an airbag deployment might put them in danger.

Modern technology has now surpassed airbag safety, making them safer for both children and adults. Together with seatbelts, modern airbags can significantly decrease injury during a collision.

How Do I know If My Car Has Airbags?

Most, if not all, modern cars have airbags, but sometimes you’d need to check where the airbag is. This can be helpful to determine how many airbags your car has.

To check the airbags in your car, you’ll need to find a sign that says “SRS AIRBAG”. This is usually located on the steering wheel and on the passenger-side dashboard.

You can also find the sign mounted on the door and some can be found on the outboard side of the seats. Airbags are mostly located in positions that protect the passengers’ major organs during a crash.

Another way is also to read the owner’s manual for the car. It will usually point out where all the airbags are situated in your car.

A quick way is also to look for the airbag warning under the sun visor.

Modern cars also have an airbag light situated on the dashboard. This light turns on if there is something wrong with the airbag system.

If an airbag light is on without deployment, it’s best to go for a diagnosis at the dealership. A defective airbag system can be dangerous.

Airbags need to be ready to deploy at any time to protect passengers.

These Cars Don’t Have Airbags

Cars that don’t have airbags are quite rare today. This is because automakers are required by law to have them in their vehicles.

Cars that don’t have airbags might be old, budget-friendly, or compact cars. Most of these cars were made before the law was passed that disallowed cars without them.

When airbag technology was taking off, Audi engineers chose to not introduce them right away. Instead, the engineers went with the Procon-Ten system, which was introduced in 1986.

The Procon-Ten was installed in the Audi 100s and 200s. The system was safe, but it was also expensive and made the car heavy.

In recent times, some cars in India still do not have airbags. The Maruti Suzuki Alto, Hyundai Santro; Datsun Redi-GO, and Mahindra Bolero currently don’t have side-impact airbags.

Some countries still do not have airbags as compulsory to install. Manufacturers choose to add them as an added safety feature.

How Many Airbags Do Cars Have Today?

The advancement of airbag technology has seen cars now have up to 10 airbags. It is now the industry standard for a car to have 6 fully functional airbags.

The minimum allowed is only two frontal airbags in terms of the law. But manufacturers are taking this to the next level and adding up to 6 airbags for their models.

Modern car airbags seem like they have the car completely cushioned to protect against injury. The airbags are placed strategically to protect different parts of the body in case of a collision.

There are various types of airbags, such as frontal airbags, side airbags, knee airbags, and inflatable seatbelts. Frontal airbags are standard across all ranges of cars today.

Frontal airbags take most of the impact in head-on collisions. Modern frontal airbags have a weight sensor and do not deploy when a small child is in the seat.

Side airbags are good for side-impact crashes and they include curtain airbags and a side torso airbag. Side airbags are good at protecting the main areas of the body.

What Cars Have the Most Airbags?

Most modern sedans have a minimum of 6 airbags and this can go up to 10 airbags in bigger cars. The bigger the car is and seats more passengers, the more airbags it will have.

Cars with the most airbags are often big cars like large sedans, pickup trucks, SUVs, and minivans, including:

Car Make and Model No. of Airbags
Chevrolet Impala 10
Toyota Camry 10
Chevrolet Malibu 10
Nissan Sentra 10
Hyundai Elantra 7
Jeep Grand Cherokee 7
Honda Civic 6

As we can see from the table, most modern cars are now produced with a minimum of 6 airbags. This is across vehicle types such as SUVs, sedans, and pickup trucks.

Car buyers are now putting safety at the top as a buying factor. Manufacturers have noticed this and are now including more safety features in their cars.

This list also means that there are currently a few or no cars that feature more than 10 airbags. With the advancement in safety features, we can safely say there’ll be cars with 11 airbags or more soon.

The Toyota Camry and Chevrolet Malibu are two of the biggest sedans out there. It isn’t a surprise to see these two sedans with 10 airbags each.

Going forward, it will not be a surprise if more cars start getting 10 or more airbags. In some countries, a minimum of 6 airbags are now mandatory for vehicles by law.

Related: 9 Cars With The Most Airbags (Including Pictures)

Can You REMOVE the Airbags on a New Car?

It is possible to remove an airbag from a car, however; it is illegal in some cases. It is not allowed to remove airbags when the car was manufactured with them.

Removing an airbag on a new car requires technical skills and should not be attempted at home. Manufacturers differ in how they attach their airbags to the steering wheel and other areas.

When an airbag deploys after a collision, the manufacturer can replace it. They usually have to remove the whole airbag module and replace it with new parts.

Some manufacturers also install a switch where the airbag can switch off. This should be used with extreme caution.

You also have the option of asking your manufacturer to disable the airbag for you. Some dealerships can also do it for you, however, it isn’t recommended.

At the end of the day, driving a car without airbags is illegal in some places. Not only can this get you a ticket, but it can also put your life in danger.

Related: BMW i8 Problems: 9 Common Issues (Explained)

Can You ADD Airbags to a Car?

It is possible to add or replace airbags in a car. However, it is best to let a professional do it.

With that said, it is rare to find a modern car without airbags. You might want to add airbags to a restored car or a really old one.

In the case of adding airbags, it is recommended to assign a technician or the manufacturer for the job. They will know the best way to install it and you have peace of mind.

Working with airbags is dangerous because the airbag might accidentally deploy and cause injury.

It is also a really bad idea to add airbags with second-hand parts. Second-hand parts can put the integrity of an airbag system at risk.

Replacing airbags can now cost you between $1,000 and $6,000 on average. Resetting smaller components like the airbag sensor light is much cheaper.

It’s best to visit the dealership if your airbag light is on without prior deployment. This can cost about $50 to $600 for both parts and labor.

A problematic airbag system should be diagnosed and fixed as soon as possible. It is also not recommended to drive a car that has a defective airbag system.

Related: Do All Cars Come With Fog Lights? (Basic Facts)

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