According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatal auto accidents have decreased significantly over the last five-year period. Enhanced safety systems in vehicles, such as airbags and modern seat belts, play a huge role in reducing fatal auto accidents.

The basics

Airbags can be found in various places throughout the vehicle. Typically, they are located in the steering wheel, on the dash, and on the side of the seats in the case of side curtain airbags. The airbags deploy under certain circumstances determined by the sensing and diagnostics module in the car.

Each passenger seat includes a safety restraint belt or seat belt. Modern seat belts include a retractor pretensioner module that is wired to the sensing and diagnostics module. Under accident scenarios, the retractor pretensioner module does not just stop the seat belt from providing slack, it actually retracts the additional slack to keep you in position for the best protection during an accident.

Normal wear

The airbag system and seatbelt systems are designed to work when they are needed. The airbags are a one-use item, so they must be replaced after deployment. Modern seat belts with the retractor pretensioner module will work under normal circumstances indefinitely, but the retractor pretensioner module can only be employed three times before the module requires maintenance.

Care and Maintenance

Airbag systems are designed to work maintenance-free. Once deployed, they must be replaced with completely new parts to provide protection in case of future accidents. If there is a sensor error or some sort of fault in the system, the “Airbag” indicator lights up on the dash. This indicates that the airbag requires maintenance. It is imperative to get maintenance if you see this light illuminated. If you are not sure what the Airbag indicator light looks like, check your owner’s manual.

Modern seat belts with retractor pretensioner modules require maintenance after three activations. This is because the pretensioner operates on gas in a canister that is preloaded for only three individual uses. The module must be replaced once the canister has been exhausted.

Airbags and seat belts work together to help protect passengers in the case of an accident. Since there has been a large recall of airbag systems, it is recommended that consumers check their vehicle for a potential airbag recall and take the vehicle in for service if there has been a recall.