Car Crash airbag deploy

4 Ways to Determine If an Airbag Has Been Deployed Before

Purchasing used vehicles can save people a lot of money. However, before buying one, it’s crucial to inspect the car well, including the airbag. A deployed airbag means that the vehicle’s module and coveralls have been replaced. It is also a sign that the car needs to have the airbag deployment inspected and replaced if necessary.

Buying a vehicle with a deployed airbag can cost you more than buying a used car with its original airbag intact. Other salespeople or mechanics only perform cosmetic repairs and don’t change the mechanism required to deploy an airbag during an accident. Therefore, it’s crucial to check for signs to ensure that the airbag in a used vehicle is the original one or not.

  • Ask the Seller

Inquire about the vehicle’s history from the seller. You will want to gather information concerning past accidents if there are any. If the car has been in an accident where the outcome is more than a scratch to the sides or a bump at the rear, then it’s likely that the airbag has been deployed.

Some sellers will provide a copy of a report detailing the vehicle’s history for free. However, if the airbag was noted as deployed, be prepared to order a new mechanism and replace it after purchasing the car. It’s also good to bring the vehicle to a mechanic or expert you know for further evaluation and needed repairs.

  • Check the Airbag Cover

The airbag cover is the most obvious clue to know if an airbag has been deployed before. The cover splits apart, allowing the airbag to support the driver or passenger’s head before an accident. Although the cover can be repaired, it will still show signs of tampering, such as seams and repainted parts. A newly-repaired airbag cover will also seem newer than the rest of the vehicle’s interior.

  • Inspect the Dashboard

If the original airbag is deployed, the chances are that the dashboard was also replaced while repairing and reinstalling a new mechanism. An airbag protects both driver and passenger—since the passenger’s airbag is placed near the dashboard, the chances are that the airbag will split the dashboard open due to the pressure caused by deployment.

  • Use the Airbag Indicator Light

The easiest way to identify if an airbag has been deployed is by looking at the airbag indicator light. It’s a simple yet helpful tool in any vehicle that can alert drivers and passengers if there is system trouble.

First, turn the ignition switch to the first position and hold it there for a few seconds. Next, you should see all the lights turn on as the vehicle switched into its indicator light test position. Afterward, turn the ignition switch to the start position and start the car. 

Look at the airbag indicator light and observe it as the vehicle turns on. The indicator light should blink briefly and turn off if there are no airbag issues. However, if it turns on, blinks, and stays on or continues to flash, there might be a problem with the airbag system.


It’s expected that some sellers and mechanics will try to fool unsuspecting used car buyers by hiding a previous airbag deployment. However, since it’s your safety in question, it’s important to be smarter than those salespeople. You need to know whether an airbag has been deployed or not before purchasing a vehicle. Vehicle inspections and reports are a good start in detecting airbag deployment. However, it still helps to bring the car to an expert for a more thorough inspection.

Safety Restore is the world’s leader in post-accident restorations. We specialize in seat belt repairs and airbag modules. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to reset your vehicle’s airbag module, then we’ve got precisely what you need. Our OEM airbag module reset can restore your vehicle’s module to its factory condition in no time. Order on our website today and get the product shipped within 24 hours.

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