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If your car is newer than a few decades old, you will have driver and passenger-side airbags. And if you’ve been involved in an accident, you know how scary airbag deployment can be! Despite how intimidating vehicle airbags are, though, they’re essential to vehicle safety. In fact, airbags can reduce driver fatalities by up to 52%.

So what happens after a car accident? How much does it cost to fix a deployed airbag? Are there any differences between passenger airbags and driver airbags, and can you do any airbag repair yourself?

Let’s take a look at what to expect if you’ve been involved in a collision.

Can You Replace a Deployed Airbag?

If you’ve ever seen the aftermath of an airbag deployment, it can be terrifying. There’s dust, vehicle fragments, and other detritus flung around your vehicle-sometimes the airbag can make the accident look worse than it really was!

Because of its appearance, you may be wondering whether your car is totaled after your airbag is deployed. The answer is no. You can replace deployed airbags. This will have to be done by a qualified professional, however, and it won’t be cheap.

Once those airbags deploy, returning them is not just a case of stuffing them into the airbag module like forcing a duvet into an overstuffed cupboard.

Speak to your insurance representative about the estimated cost of repair on your car airbags. He or she can help you determine whether it’s worth it to fix the deployed airbag or to claim a total loss on your vehicle. This may depend upon the nature of the accident-was it a collision, or did your car airbags deploy your airbags for some other reason?

You, your mechanic, and your insurance agent can figure out the best course of action for you. Whether you replace your vehicle or fix your deployed airbag is a choice only you can make.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix a Deployed Airbag System?

When you fix an airbag, you’re not only fixing an airbag. There are about a dozen components to the airbag deployment system that will need to be inspected and, usually, replaced. These include:

  • Pyrotechnic inflators
  • Igniter
  • Clockspring
  • The actual airbags
  • Passenger seat switch
  • Impact sensors
  • Steering wheel
  • Dashboard
  • Other related components

Your certified mechanic will have to check and repair or replace each and every one of these components before your airbags will work properly again.

You can expect to pay upwards of $2,000 for each airbag that needs to be repaired. That does not include the cost of labor in most cases. If both your driver and passenger-side airbags were deployed, the repair costs could easily exceed the value of your vehicle.

Again, you’ll want to evaluate your own personal financial and insurance situation to determine whether it’s best to total the car or fix the deployed airbag.

Should I Get an Airbag Replacement?

In this section, we’re not going to evaluate whether it’s worth it for you to fix deployed airbags. Instead, we’ll talk about whether it’s important to fix a deployed airbag before driving your car again.

The answer to that question is a resounding “yes.” Since 1998, the United States government has required that all passenger vehicles be equipped with both driver and passenger airbags-and not without reason

Airbags save lives. So if your airbag has deployed, it’s imperative that you fix it for your safety and the safety of your passengers. If you’re in an accident and your vehicle does not have airbags, your risk of injury or death rises by 30%.

Furthermore, if your airbag isn’t functional, your car will likely not pass your state’s required safety inspection. That may mean you’ll be unable to register your vehicle. Therefore, you cannot legally drive your car.

It may seem that fixing your airbags is an unnecessary and expensive undertaking, but it’s essential for both legal and safety reasons. If you can’t afford to replace your airbags it’s best to explore options available to you through your insurance company. In most cases, the cost of airbag replacement is covered by your collision policy. In some cases, however, the insurer will simply write your car off as a total loss.

Summary: Replacement Airbags After an Accident

Airbags are essential to the safety of you and your passengers. In fact, it’s illegal to drive a car that doesn’t pass a safety inspection, so your airbags will need to be in working order at all times.

If you’re involved in an accident, you can fix an airbag that has deployed. However, those repairs are expensive. Speak with your insurance company about whether replacing your airbags is worth it in the long run, or if you should call your vehicle a total loss.