airbag system

The Basic Parts of the Airbag System You Need to Know

Every vehicle owner knows what an SRS (supplemental restraint system) or airbag is and why it’s important. However, not everyone is familiar with the components of this vital safety device. As a car owner, knowing the air system’s parts can help you understand how it works and what problems you might encounter.

Here are the essential components you should know:


The airbag is commonly known as the primary restraint system. The airbag is a cushion-like device activated by the airbag control module. It is designed to inflate and deflate rapidly during a collision. It is found in the steering wheel, the dashboard, and the side of the driver’s and passenger’s seats. In some vehicles, the side airbags are located in the seat.

Most modern vehicles have side airbags, front airbags, and curtain airbags. The side airbags are usually located below the side windows. Regardless of where they are located, their main function is to protect the occupant’s chest area.

Airbag Inflator

One of the main components of an airbag system, the airbag inflator is an explosive device that keeps the airbag inflated until the occupant protection system is activated. It is powered by a chemical compound commonly called sodium azide.

When the airbag is activated, it ruptures the primary canister or initiator. It starts a chemical reaction that will release gas, inflating the airbag. Some airbags have the gas released when the occupant hits the bag.

Airbag Sensor

This component measures the occupant’s weight and its seating position. It sends a signal to the airbag controller when it detects a possible collision. In most vehicles, the sensors are part of the occupant protection system.

SRS Airbag Module

The airbag control module is usually located near the steering wheel in most modern vehicles. The module will deploy the side airbags and the front airbags when a collision happens. The airbag control module is located under the dashboard in some older vehicles.

Clock Spring

Usually made of steel, this component is part of the occupant’s side of the steering wheel. It is attached to the steering wheel housing and the steering wheel cover.

In most vehicles, it is connected to the airbag control module. It contains a spiral of wires that connect the module to the ignition switch, the vehicle’s computer, and the steering wheel. When the ignition switch is turned to “lock,” for example, the clock spring makes sure that the computer and the airbag control module are off. That is why you find a warning light on your instrument panel saying, “airbag off.”

SRS Airbag Warning Light

This part is usually located on the instrument panel. Some vehicles combine it with the airbag on or off warning light. It indicates that the airbags and the SRS have been deployed. When this warning light is on, it means that the airbag inflation system is still armed.

When the airbag system is activated, it sends a signal that lights up the airbag warning light. That usually lasts for a few seconds or sometimes longer. Once it is turned off, it means that the airbag system has been deployed.

Wiring Harness

This is also known as the connector sub-harness. It is the main electrical connection of the airbag system. It transfers electrical signals from the airbag control module to the rest of the car’s electrical system. It is usually made of colored wires.


After reading this article, you now have an idea about the vehicle’s occupant protection system. Hopefully, it helped you understand this system’s basic features and components. Now that you know a bit about them, you will appreciate their purpose more and understand why they should be checked and maintained each time.

Tune in to this blog if you want to know how to service the airbag system. Safety Restore is the world’s leader in post-accident restorations specializing in seat belt repairs and airbag modules. We also provide webbing replacements and instrument cluster repairs.

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