Where Are Airbags Placed In Cars? (Required & Optional)

The placement of these airbags throughout the car is key to maximizing their effectiveness.

It’s important to know where they are in order to know that you’re protected well.

This article will explore the specific placement of airbags in cars, providing a better understanding of how they function to keep passengers safe during accidents.

But first, you need to know how to locate the airbags in your own car.

Where Are the Airbags In MY Car?

All new cars today have airbags.

Here are some ways to identify where the airbags are located in your car:

  1. Check the Owner’s Manual: The owner’s manual will typically have information about all the features in your car, including the airbags. It will specify the types and locations of airbags in your vehicle.
  2. Look for the “SRS” or “Airbag” Markings: In many vehicles, areas containing airbags are labeled with “SRS” (which stands for Supplemental Restraint System) or with the word “Airbag”. These labels can usually be found on the steering wheel, dashboard, side doors, or sides of the seats.
  3. Check the Car’s Interior: Many cars have visible signs of where airbags are located. For instance, the front airbags are generally housed within the steering wheel and the front passenger dashboard. Side airbags are usually contained within the side of the seat or the interior roof pillar (also known as the “B-pillar”).
  4. Consult with a Professional: If you still have questions about the airbags in your car, a mechanic or the vehicle’s manufacturer should be able to provide more detailed information.

Remember that the number and location of airbags can vary depending on the make, model, and year of the car. Safety technology evolves over time, so newer cars may have more airbags in different locations compared to older models.

Here are some of the cars with the most airbags.

Common Airbag Placement in Cars (Look here first)

Let’s start with the most common placements.

Driver Airbag

The driver airbag is typically located within the steering wheel of the vehicle. In the event of a frontal collision, this airbag is designed to deploy rapidly and protect the driver from impacting the steering wheel.

Passenger Airbag

Passenger airbags are situated in the dashboard area on the passenger side.

These airbags provide protection to the front-seat passenger during a frontal crash by preventing their body from hitting the dashboard.

Knee Airbags

Knee airbags are installed under the steering wheel and on the passenger side dashboard.

They help protect the driver’s and front passenger’s knees during a collision by distributing impact forces and reducing contact with hard surfaces.

Center Airbags

Center airbags, sometimes found in the inboard side of the driver seat, are designed to provide protection in side-impact crashes. They help prevent the driver and front passenger from colliding with each other during an accident.

Seat Cushion Airbags

Seat cushion airbags can be found in the outboard side of the seats (driver, front passenger, and sometimes, rear passenger side). These airbags offer additional protection from side-impact collisions by keeping the occupants from colliding with the vehicle’s interior.

Rear Passenger Airbags

Rear passenger airbags are not as common as the other types of airbags but can be found in some vehicles. These airbags are designed to protect rear seat passengers during side-impact crashes, offering additional cushioning and support.

Check also here how Teslas have multiple airbags.

How Many Airbags Do New Cars Typically Have?

While the number of airbags varies based on the make and model of the vehicle, a typical new car usually features at least six airbags.

These include:

  • frontal airbags for both the driver and the front passenger,
  • seat-mounted side-impact airbags for both the driver and the front passenger,
  • and roof-rail airbags behind both front seats to protect both rows of seating.

Front airbags have become mandatory in all new passenger vehicles since the 1999 model year.

They are designed to inflate within the first 10-20 milliseconds of a crash to protect occupants from the force of a head-on collision.

In addition to frontal airbags, side-impact airbags play a crucial role in protecting occupants from the force of a side collision, which is particularly relevant in the case of T-bone accidents or cars hitting fixed objects like trees or lampposts.

Moreover, there are advanced airbag systems available in some high-end cars, such as rear seat airbags, knee airbags, center airbags that prevent front occupants from hitting each other in a side-impact collision, and airbags for pedestrians which inflate upon sensing impact with a pedestrian to prevent severe head injuries.

While the specific number of airbags in a car depends on the make and model, a typical new vehicle has at least six airbags installed to ensure the safety of its occupants.

Additional features, such as rollover protection, can also help keep passengers secure during accidents, making it essential for vehicle manufacturers to continue innovating and developing advanced safety features.

3 Types of Airbags in Cars

Frontal Airbags

Frontal airbags are designed to protect occupants in the event of a head-on collision. They are typically located in the steering wheel for the driver and in the dashboard for the front passenger. These airbags inflate rapidly when the impact sensor detects a collision, providing a cushion between the occupant and the vehicle’s interior, helping to reduce the risk of injury.

There are two main types of frontal airbags:

  • Single-stage airbags: These deploy with a constant force and are more commonly found in older vehicles.
  • Dual-stage airbags: These have different inflation levels based on the severity of the crash. They provide a more tailored level of protection depending on the needs of the occupants.

Side Airbags

Side airbags offer protection in the event of a side-impact collision.

There are two common types of side airbags:

  • Torso airbags: As the name suggests, torso airbags are situated to shield the occupant’s torso during a side collision. They are usually integrated into the side of the vehicle’s seats and primarily protect those in the front seats, although some luxury vehicles offer rear-seat torso airbags as well.
  • Pelvis-thorax airbags: These airbags are designed to protect both the pelvis and upper body during a side-impact collision. They can be found in the seat or door panels of vehicles.

Curtain Airbags

Curtain airbags are designed to protect occupants’ heads during a side-impact collision or rollover. They are typically mounted on the roof or side pillars, and when deployed, they create a protective curtain that covers the window area. This helps prevent occupants from hitting their heads against the car’s frame or being ejected from the vehicle during an accident.

Curtain airbags are generally standard equipment in most modern passenger vehicles, providing an additional layer of head protection.

When were airbags introduced?

Airbags were first introduced in the United States in the 1970s. During this time, seat-belt usage rates were significantly lower compared to modern-day standards. Ford Motor Company was one of the pioneers in the development of airbags; they built experimental cars equipped with airbags in 1971.

General Motors followed suit and installed airbags in a fleet of 1973 Chevrolet Impalas, which were intended for government use only.

The 1973 Oldsmobile Toronado became the first car with a passenger airbag sold to the public.

The airbag industry is often traced back to the late 1960s when Allen K. Breed, a mechanical engineer from New Jersey, invented a reliable, affordable, and effective crash sensor.

This invention proved to be a key component in the development of airbags and laid the groundwork for increased safety in automobiles.

Over the years, airbag technology has evolved significantly, with modern front airbags differing greatly from their 1996 counterparts. The continuous development and improvements in airbag technology have made them an essential safety feature in today’s vehicles.

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