See If Your Car’s Airbags Were Ever Deployed or Replaced
It’s important to know whether the airbags in a car have ever deployed, whether it’s a car you’re considering buying or one you’ve already bought used. A car with airbag deployment in its past is not inherently unsafe, but airbag replacements can be problematic if not handled properly. A Carfax Vehicle History Report can tell you a lot about a car’s past, including accidents, airbag deployments, and service history. You can purchase a Carfax Report or get one free for any car in our used car listings. However, because airbag safety is so important, Carfax is providing the following airbag check free of charge:
Free CARFAX Airbag Check
CARFAX Airbag Check Results
If There Is No Record of Airbag Deployment
If there’s no record of your car’s airbags deploying, that’s good news. Airbag replacement isn’t common, because accidents serious enough to cause airbag deployments usually cause significant damage to a vehicle. Replacing airbags and fixing body damage is expensive; it’s often cheaper for insurance companies to declare the car totaled.
If you still have questions or concerns about your car’s history, consider purchasing a Carfax Vehicle History Report. It gives you more details about a vehicle’s past, including accidents, maintenance records, ownership history, and more.
If There Is a Record of Airbag Deployment
If the tool above shows that your car’s airbags have deployed, you’ll want to make sure they were replaced correctly. Here are a few steps you can take:
Check the Car’s Maintenance Records
If you have all of the maintenance records, check them to see if there is a record of an airbag replacement. It would likely be on a body shop invoice with other accident-related repairs. You should be able to see when the airbag was replaced, who replaced it, and what parts they used.
Buy a Carfax Report
In a perfect world, all used cars would come with complete maintenance records, but that’s not always the case. Luckily, a Carfax Vehicle History Report will include much of the information you’d find in a stack of paper maintenance records, including the date of a service and what the service shop did.
A Carfax report can also show you other pertinent information about a car’s past, such as accidents, which can cause airbags to deploy, or flood damage, which can cause airbags to malfunction.
Have Airbags Inspected by a Mechanic
If you still have questions about the replacement airbags in your car, take it to a reputable service shop for an inspection. They’ll be able to check the sensors, wires, and inflator, as well as run electronic diagnostic tests.
If there is an issue with your airbag, replacing it can be expensive, but it’s vital to the safety of your car.
Why It’s Important to Know Whether a Car Has Replacement Airbags
Car airbags can save lives, and because they’re very complicated pieces of automotive engineering, it’s critical that they are replaced properly. A bad replacement job, or bad parts, can be deadly.
Airbag Replacement Fraud
New airbags direct from the manufacturer (also known as OEM, or Original Equipment Manufacturer) are the best choice for airbag replacements. However, because new airbags are pricey, there’s an incentive for unscrupulous body shops to install used airbags. (You can always use Carfax’s Service Shop Directory to find reputable service shops near you.)
Used airbags are usually pulled from salvaged vehicles. They aren’t automatically unsafe, but your safest bet is having a brand-new airbag installed.
Most body shops care about customer safety, but there are some bad apples out there. When airbag fraud occurs, it usually involves someone collecting the full price for a new airbag but installing a used airbag instead and pocketing the difference. A more serious version of the scam involves mechanics installing a faulty airbag, such as one damaged in a flood, or not installing an airbag at all and just replacing the airbag cover.
Avoid Becoming a Victim of a Bad Airbag
When Buying a Used Car
- Know the vehicle’s history. Use the free airbag check on this page to see if an airbag deployment has been reported for your car. A CARFAX Vehicle History Report can also tell you if the car’s airbags have ever been deployed or if it has suffered flood damage.
- Get a pre-purchase vehicle inspection. Even if the car has a clean Vehicle History Report, have the vehicle inspected by a skilled mechanic before you buy. If the Vehicle History Report indicates flood damage or airbag deployment, be sure to have the mechanic pay special attention to the airbags.
When Getting Your Car Repaired After an Accident
- Ask the shop to let you inspect the airbag before it is installed. Check it to make sure it’s in a sealed package from the manufacturer.
- Take a look at the repair shop’s paperwork to make sure they purchased the airbag directly from the manufacturer. This will help you make sure the airbag is new and sourced from the manufacturer.