Indian laws do not have any minimum safety requirements for cars. However, many manufacturers have started offering airbags as standard even in the base variants of their models. Airbags can reduce the risk of injuries substantially and even save the lives of the occupants. However, airbags will not always deploy or will work as they are supposed to. Why? Well, there can be many reasons. Here are the reasons that can cause an airbag failure.
They do not work forever
Airbags are complicated systems and contain various different equipment. Over time, some of the components age out and do not work. If your car is very old and is equipped with airbags, chances are they would not work in case of a collision. Manufacturers do not replace the airbags outside the warranty period and if they stop working after a certain time, the manufacturer will not be liable. Most manufacturers mention in manuals to get the airbags checked after a certain period. If you want to ensure that the airbags are in working condition, ensure that they are checked by the manufacturers after the mentioned time.
Airbags are an extremely critical component and any kind of modification to the vehicle can make them useless and even harmful to the occupants. The airbags are triggered by the sensors placed in the bumpers. If the owner installs bullbars, the impact to the sensors becomes less and may not trigger the airbags to deploy at all. In worst cases, the airbags are deployed after a delay because the bullbar takes the first impact and a delayed airbag deployment can seriously harm the occupants.
Airbags are designed to deploy in a fraction of second using a small blast and by the time an airbag is deployed after a delay, the face of the passenger is too close to the blast, thereby damaging the face. Also, if the car has side airbags and seat covers are installed on it, the airbag may not deploy at all.
Not following the directives
Airbags save lives but they have to be used with certain directives. If the occupants are travelling without seatbelts, airbags may not deploy due to a safety measure. Even if certain cars may deploy the airbags, it can again injure the occupants instead of saving them. Always wear seatbelts in a car. Also, putting a child seat on the co-driver seat with an airbag can injure the child.
Area of impact
Area of impact is essential in the deployment of the airbags. Generally, the sensors are placed in the bumpers of the vehicle. If the impact is above the bumpers or the sensors, then the airbags do not deploy. Many times cars ram into heavy vehicles like trucks, which causes the first impact on the A-pillars and not the sensors. The airbags may not open during such scenarios.
The airbags consist of several components, wiring and other things. If any of these components fail, the airbags may not deploy. It is quite possible that the wires have been cut by rodents or they have aged and have stopped working. Also, malfunctioning can happen due to a manufacturing defect. A manufacturing defect has been reported in the airbags manufactured by Takata, that has affected millions of vehicles worldwide.
Airbags are needed only above a certain speed and seatbelts are sufficient to save the occupants from any injuries at low speeds. Manufacturers wire the airbag systems in a way that it does not deploy below a certain speed. So if the impact of the accident is at a low speed, then the airbags may not deploy.