Airbags are meant to provide safety in cases of collision. It prevents the driver and passenger from injuries such as head and neck injuries during accidents. The airbag system was installed for a purpose so vehicle owners should not disable them.
However, there are instances wherein you need to know how to disable airbag system.
In 1997, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a rule to allow car manufacturers to install low-powered airbags. In 1998, vehicle owners can also get authorization from the NHTSA to get on and off switches for the airbags.
How Does the Airbag System Work?
Cre: Science ABC
An airbag is also known as a supplementary restraint system (SRS) or supplementary inflatable restraint (SIR). As the name suggests, it helps protect you but should be used in conjunction with a seatbelt. Here are the steps on how the airbag system deploys:
When a car bumps into something, it decelerates very quickly.
The accelerometer detects the change in speed.
When the deceleration is abrupt, the accelerometer then triggers the airbag circuit.
The circuit goes through an electric current into a heating element.
The heat, along with harmless gas, makes the airbag expand.
The airbag is coated with talcum powder so it will smoothly unwrap and blows off the plastic cover and inflates.
When the driver pushes against the airbag, the bag deflates by letting air escape against small holes. The airbag should have fully deflated once the car stops. Therefore, the driver is safe from the impact but the airbag does not suffocate him.
Reasons Why We Need to Disable Airbag System
The only main reason why you would need to disable the airbag system is when it is a danger to the passenger or driver. There are other reasons why there is a need to disable the airbag system in your car. Here are the provisions approved by the NHTSA:
A licensed physician must present a written statement when a car owner seeks authorization from the NHTSA to install an on and off switch to disable the airbag system.
The physician would know which medical conditions would be fatal once an airbag is deployed; one example is if a car owner has a history of heart problems and may suffer a heart attack.
There are exceptions to this rule; these medical conditions are required to have the airbag system enabled at all times:
People with pacemakers
People with eyeglasses
Previous back or neck surgery
There are instances that the rear seats are too small to fit a baby carrier or car seat. The airbag system will be dangerous if it gets deployed and the child is in the front seat.
Child Under 13 Years of Age
When a child has a medical condition that needs to be monitored carefully from the front seat, the airbag system must be turned off. Airbags are too powerful for children and could be fatal.
Passengers or Drivers with Small Stature
If a passenger who is below 5 feet tall were to ride with you, the airbag system must be turned off as it may not protect the person but cause harm. Airbags, when deployed to the face, may cause suffocation.
If the driver is less than 5 feet tall and needs to sit within 10 inches of the airbag, then the airbag system must be turned off to avoid suffocation.
Airbag is Defective
When your airbag gets defective and it needs to get replaced, you should disable the system before you install a new one. But, if you are not an expert on this, better to hand it off to a professional mechanic.
Factors to Consider Before Disabling the Airbag System
Having a switch that allows you to temporarily disable the airbag system is very convenient; however, the process to obtain an authorization is tasking. No auto shop will fulfill your request if you don’t have the proper authorization.
The alternative is to learn how to disable airbag system by yourself.
However, should there be a need to enable it for other passengers or drivers would require effort for you. If you would frequently need to disable the airbag system, then it would be best to secure authorization and get an on and off switch installed properly.
Steps on How to Disable Airbag System
What You Need
What To Do
Eliminate the Power
Disconnect the negative battery cable from its terminal and let it discharge for about 15 minutes to drain out the voltage system. Since the airbag system runs on an electrical charge, it is crucial that the voltage system is drained out to prevent electrocution.
Remove the Fuse
Refer to your car’s manual and locate the fuse box. Look for the correct fuse for the airbag and remove it. Make sure to keep it in a safe place.
Remove the Dashboard Cover
The dashboard is held down with metal snaps and should be easy to remove once you find the bolts. Just use a flathead screwdriver to insert into the groove and slowly pry it up. The bolts are underneath the groove and can be removed with a screwdriver.
Disable the Passenger Seat Airbags
Look for the yellow wiring. With a flathead screwdriver, push the green locking pin then undo the harness.The next steps are for disabling the driver seat airbags.
Remove the Lower Panel of the Steering Wheel
To remove the lower panel of the steering wheel, make sure your wheels are straight. Use a marker to mark the correct position of your steering wheel.
Disable the Airbags
Look for the yellow wiring like the ones on the passenger side. Use a flathead screwdriver to push the green locking pin then remove the harness.
If you are installing new airbags, make sure that you remember the exact steps that you took and work backwards. Once everything is in place, test if the airbag system is working. The airbag light should turn off when someone is on the seat and the engine is turned on.
What are your thoughts on the above? Remember, if you are not an expert on cars, it is best to have a professional mechanic do the above steps to prevent harm or damage.
Please share with us your feedback based on the article. We would love to hear your comments and if you have additional tips for us. Don’t forget to share this article with your friends.
I am David Walker ,I'm a car enthusiast. Through this blog, I want to share every single experience I had with my beloved car with you guys. Definitely feel free to comment, give feedbacks and show us what You and your cars have been through.