What’s In A Seat: Airbags

As vehicles are becoming more advanced, we are finding technology where it never was before. Sometimes it is in plain sight, such as infotainment systems, GPS, and a head-up display. However, sometimes it is concealed in places one may not expect.

Let’s take a look at automotive seats, they do far more now than just provide a comfortable place to sit. Seats now may have an occupant classification system (OCS), airbags, haptic feedback (vibrating seats), or heated and cooled seats. These systems typically go beyond simple switches and relays and rely on control modules and computers to make them function.

Since the late 1990’s, passenger vehicles were beginning to come equipped with airbags integrated into the seats. Since then, the use of seat airbags in vehicles has steadily increased, and they can now be found on most vehicles. Although mostly found in the front seats, some OEMs offer them in rear seats as well. In the event of a side impact, these airbags are designed to offer protection to the head, the torso, or both.

The seat airbags may be used independently, or in conjunction with side curtain airbags as part of the side airbag system. In the event of a severe enough side impact, both the seat and curtain airbags will deploy at the same time.

Identifying if a seat is equipped with an airbag is typically straightforward. Look for the words “Airbag” or “SRS” on a tag sewn to the side of the seat or embossed on a plastic trim piece of the seat. Care must be taken to ensure the seat airbags are not obstructed. If seat covers are used on a vehicle with seat airbags, they must be specifically designed to not impede or change how the airbag deploys.

Due to the complexity of these systems, many of the functions are computer controlled. This means that diagnostics and repairs are more in depth. However, this also means that DTCs may be set if there are any malfunctions. A scan tool will be required to pull these trouble codes and diagnose any issues.

It is important to know if a vehicle is equipped with these features, what parts are used in the system, and where they are located. This will enable you to check for proper operation to ensure a complete, safe, and quality repair.

Additional I-CAR Collision Repair News you may find helpful:

Related I-CAR Courses