Search by Title only
Home > Safety features of your vehicle > Air bag - advanced supplemental restraint system > How does the air bag system operate?

How does the air bag system operate?

  • Air bags are activated (able to inflate if necessary) only when the EV button has been changed to ON position or the vehicle is in the ready mode.

  • The appropriate air bags inflate instantly in the event of a serious frontal collision or side collision in order to help protect the occupants from serious physical injury.

  • Generally, air bags are designed to inflate based upon the severity of a collision and its direction. These two factors determine whether the sensors produce an electronic deployment/inflation signal.

  • Air bags will inflate based upon the severity of a collision and its direction, etc. But air bags will not inflate in every crash or collision situation.

  • The front air bags will completely inflate and deflate in an instant. It is virtually impossible for you to see the air bags inflate during an accident. It is much more likely that you will simply see the deflated air bags hanging out of their storage compartments after the collision.

  • In addition to inflating in serious side collisions, side and/or curtain air bags will inflate if the sensing system detects a rollover.

  • When a rollover is detected, side and/or curtain air bags will remain inflated longer to help provide protection from ejection, especially when used in conjunction with the seat belts.

  • In order to help provide protection, the air bags must inflate rapidly. The speed of the air bag inflation is a consequence of extremely short time in which to inflate the air bag between the occupant and the vehicle structures before the occupant impacts those structures. This speed of inflation reduces the risk of serious or life-threatening injuries and is thus a necessary part of the air bag design. However, air bag inflation can also cause injuries which can include facial abrasions, bruises and broken bones because the inflation speed also causes the air bags to expand with a great deal of force.

  • There are even circumstances under which contact with the steering wheel or passenger air bag can cause fatal injuries, especially if the occupant is positioned excessively close to the steering wheel or passenger air bag.


Airbag Inflation

Sit as far back as possible from the steering wheel while still maintaining comfortable control of the vehicle. A distance of at least 10" from your chest to the steering wheel is recommended. Failure to do so can result in airbag inflation injuries to the driver.

Noise and smoke

When inflated, the air bags make a loud noise and leave smoke and powder in the air inside the vehicle. This is normal and is a result of the ignition of the air bag inflator. After the air bag inflates, you may feel substantial discomfort in breathing due to the contact of your chest with both the seat belt and the air bag, as well as from breathing the smoke and powder. Open your doors and/or windows as soon as possible after impact in order to reduce discomfort and prevent prolonged exposure to the smoke and powder.

Though smoke and powder are nontoxic, it may cause irritation to the skin (eyes, nose and throat, etc). If this is the case, wash and rinse with cold water immediately and consult a doctor if the symptom persists.


Hot Components

Do not touch the air bag storage area's internal components immediately after airbag inflation. The air bag related parts in the steering wheel, instrument panel and the roof rails above the front and rear doors are very hot. Hot components can result in burn injuries.


Do not install or place any accessories near air bag deployment areas, such as the instrument panel, windows, pillars, and roof rails.