Can You Drive a Car With Airbags Deployed?

Being involved in a car accident is a terrifying experience, isn’t it? In cases where no-one is hurt, our thoughts turn to our cars. Is it totaled? Is it safe to drive? What about the airbags?

I am sure we have all heard horror stories about airbags being deployed. But what do we know about what happens after they are deployed? Designed to keep us safe, an airbag can deploy in an accident if the car is struck with great force. 

But can you drive afterward? Today, we are going to find out! Below we are going to answer the popular question: can you drive a car with airbags deployed?

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What are the different types of airbags?

Before we get into driving with deployed airbags, let’s take a quick look at the different types of airbags fitted in your car. All new vehicles are equipped with airbags as standard, as are most older or second-hand vehicles. Be sure to check when buying a used car that it has airbags fitted, as it can be costly to do so yourself! 

You will have front airbags in your steering wheel and on the passenger side of the dashboard. These protect you from any front-facing damage that may come from hitting the wheel or windscreen. 

As technology has developed and safety concerns have increased, you also have airbags throughout your car. Common places include the driver’s knees and the front passenger side—these work to protect you from leg injuries during an accident. 

You will also have side-front airbags that will protect you from any side-on collisions. These will help with any torso injuries that can occur during a car accident. Finally, curtain airbags complete the set. These protect those in the backseats, deploying from the ceiling of the car. Curtain bags will cover the length from ceiling to floor of the vehicle for wholesome protection. 

Some cars also feature exterior pedestrian airbags and a seatbelt airbag. How the airbags deploy will depend on the vehicle. Some vehicles use a sensor that triggers all airbags, whereas others might only deploy the front or side airbags. 

In some collisions, airbags are not deployed at all. In these cases, it is easier to drive away from an accident. But don’t worry, we are going to cover driving with deployed airbags in a moment! 

What are deployed airbags?

Let’s just have a quick recap first for anyone who might be confused! These days all cars are fitted with airbags as standard. These are usually located in the steering wheel and dashboard on the passenger side of the vehicle. 

During an accident, these airbags can deploy, protecting passengers from hurting themselves on the windshield or other parts of the car. Deployed airbags will be large, usually white, and single-use.

After inflating, they will slowly deflate and need to be replaced. Although, what happens before you get them replaced. Let’s take a look at driving with deployed airbags. 

Can you drive a car with airbags deployed?

So can you drive a car with airbags deployed? Yes, you can indeed! There is no law specifying that you can not drive a vehicle if the airbags have been deployed. As laws can vary from state to state, it is always best to check on the DMV’s website if there are any rules against this in your state.

Providing that you still have access to the mechanisms and the car is in a drivable condition, it will be acceptable to drive it. You will need to ensure that the deployed airbags have deflated fully before driving.

The deployed airbags should deflate on their own,  but this can take time. A sharp object can help deflate them faster. 

Should you drive a car with deployed airbags?

Now that we have cleared that up, the next question we should ask ourselves is: should you drive a car with deployed airbags?

Generally, the airbags will deploy in an accident, which can be a scary and traumatic experience. You will need to be sure you are in a fit state to drive any car, let alone one with deployed airbags. 

The next thing you need to consider is your safety. There is always the risk of another accident occurring. In that instance, the airbags that have already been deployed will not work again. Without these airbags deploying, you are at risk of worse injuries if you are in another accident. 

Can airbags be replaced?

Once your airbags have been deployed, their purpose has been fulfilled, and you will not be able to use them again. You can replace your airbags once they have been deployed, but they can be costly.

Your front airbags will be the easiest to replace, often during the fitting of a new steering wheel or dashboard panel. 

Side curtain airbags are challenging to install and a costly replacement to make. Although there is no law against driving with deployed airbags, it is not very safe. Yes, replacing these airbags is an expensive procedure, but one that is worth doing to ensure you are safe should you be in another accident! 

What about second-hand cars?

Purchasing a second-hand car is often a cheaper option for drivers across the country. But it is not without its risks, especially if you are buying a salvage title car or one that has been involved in an accident. 

Be sure when buying one of these cars, you have a mechanic to help identify any potential problems. While there are risks involved, you can often find a solid car at a lower price! 

These cars, however, can legally be rebuilt without replacing deployed airbags. These cars should have a “No SRS Installed” disclaimer on replacement panels, and the condition of the vehicle should be clearly stated. 

There is a risk that not all sellers will be honest and will fail to disclose this information. If this is the case, negotiate the cost of the car down so that you can allow for the cost of replacing the airbag yourself. 

Even if there are airbag replacements, we would still recommend having a mechanic check them over. After all, your safety is essential! 

 Final word

So can you drive a car with airbags deployed? Yes, you can! While your safety will be compromised, there is no law against doing so. Be sure that if you do take the risk, it is done as safely as possible. It is best to avoid long journeys and drive the car only to move it after the accident. 

Although airbag replacements can be costly, the cost of your life is much higher. Be sure to replace deployed airbags as soon as you can to ensure you are safe in another collision.