Do Airbags Go Bad? You Won’t Like This Answer

How long do airbags last? They aren't guaranteed to last the life of your vehicle! Here's what you need to know about airbag longevity.

airbag sraphotohut/Shutterstock

Drivers typically don’t think much about airbags unless they go off in an accident. But these safety features can age just like other car components, and may even need to be replaced. How do you know if your airbags have gone bad? Here’s what you need to know.

Some Airbags Have Replacement Dates

An Airbags lifespan depends on the age and brand of your car. That’s why we suggest you take a look at your owner’s manual, or research your specific model online to find out the details. If your airbags need to be replaced, be sure to follow the guidelines from the car manufacturer.

This mostly effects older cars, particularly old Mercedes cars. If you have a Mercedes vehicle that was made before 1992, there’s a good chance you should replace the airbags every 15 years.

Older Vehicles May Also Have Airbag Inspection Requirements

While some vehicles may not have required airbag replacement dates, they might have suggested inspections to make sure airbag parts are working properly. In particular, the ignition sequence can wear out is some older car models.

For example, if you take a look at the manuals for Acura or Honda cars from the 1990s (especially the early 1990s), you’ll see that they recommend having your airbag inspected every 10 years, and replaced if necessary. Keep this in mind if you are buying an older used car. And always do some research if you aren’t sure.

Also, take note of the massive Takata airbag recall. It was learned that Takata airbags on vehicles with model years from 2002 to 2015 could deploy explosively. Metal shreds are even capable of flying through the car’s cabin if the inflator housing ruptures in a crash. If you believe your vehicle might have a Takata airbag, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website and type in your car”s VIN number.

Today’s Airbags Are Durable

The good news: Starting in the mid-to-late 1990s, vehicle airbags began getting lifetime ratings. In other words, they are expected to last the entire lifetime of a vehicle without any problems. However, this doesn’t mean they last forever. Modern vehicles connect airbags to self-diagnostic systems to test them. Modern airbag systems conduct a self-test at startup and the car’s system continues to monitor the airbag while the vehicle is running. If there is a problem, the warning light comes on. Want more hints about car maintenance? We’ve got them.