Drivers Side Airbag Deployment

Greetings,

I am in a considerable pickle and am looking for some information that I have found very difficult to obtain via telephone or the web.

On Monday, the drivers side airbag of my new (to me) vehicle deployed from a very minor parking collision involving no other vehicles or property damage. The bumper can easily be fixed (or left as is) and there is no mechanical damage as assessed by a mechanic (lights, hood, grill all fully functioning). I believe the fault could be a sensor error with the vehicle itself and I believe that the lurching motion that created the incident is due to a faulty recall repair on the transmission box. It was a very, very strange situation and shocking experience to say the least. I'm currently working with a representativel from the CVSE to explore all options related to this as I do not believe I can be held liable for the airbag deployment, but in the meantime I'm exploring alternative options as I need a vehicle for work.

My questions are simple:

Is it a legal requirement to have a drivers side airbag in order to operate that motor vehicle in British Columbia?

Am I still covered by my ICBC insurance policy while operating said vehicle in BC?

I know there are many older vehicles on the road without drivers side airbags installed. It is my understanding that it is also legal to turn your drivers side airbags off with a switch. I am also aware that many drivers of high end vehicles replace their stock steering wheel with driving wheels designed without airbags installed, and that this practice is legal.

Could someone please shed some light on the legality of operating a motor vehicle without a drivers side airbag?

I am aware that operating a vehicle without a safety feature designed for said vehicle is an unsound idea, to say the least. However, the replacement cost for an airbag is around $5000 which exceeds the value of the car. The car is in perfect shape other than the airbag depolyed and some minor fender damage. It recently passed an ICBC sanctioned exam in March and a 3rd party pre purchase inspection at a dealership just last week.

Thank you sincerely,

Justin

Answer

If your vehicle was manufactured with an airbag, you cannot pass inspection without it being properly operational.

Light vehicle inspection standards say:

e) air bag indicator (if O.E.M. equipped) SRS diagnostic test results to be recorded. Reject if remains on – fails to operate during test cycle – fails to go out after test cycle

f) air bag(s) (if OEM equipped) Reject if removed

The airbag control module will only deploy the airbags if threshold deceleration conditions are passed or in some cases if sensors on the car body detect impact.

Unfortunately, you would likely need the services of an engineer in a collision reconstruction firm in order to decide if the control module did not do what it was supposed to.

Thank you

Thanks for taking the time to reply. Thing is, does it need to pass any new inspections to be road worthy right now? Since he collision is not covered by ICBC what inspection do I need to consent to? As far as I'm aware if the car does not change ownership or title it is free and clear.

Inspection

If the police were to order you to inspection for some reason, you would not pass.

Now that I think of it, if you were to loan the vehicle to others or were to sell it, you had best make sure everyone else knows that the airbag does not work or you could be held liable for any injury suffered.

Totally

Yes, totally, I've definitely ruined the resale value of the car! I'm only looking at making sure it's legal for me to drive.

From interest ...

... what vehicle do you have there? Year, model and make is what I'm getting at.

It may be covered by the massive recall of Takata Airbag equipped vehicles, is what I'm thinking.

I know there are many older vehicles on the road without drivers side airbags installed. It is my understanding that it is also legal to turn your drivers side airbags off with a switch. I am also aware that many drivers of high end vehicles replace their stock steering wheel with driving wheels designed without airbags installed, and that this practice is legal.

I'm not so sure about any of that. As an analogy (which may or may not be appropriate), if your vehicle was manufactured without seatbelts (pre-1967 many were) then you can drive it without wearing them; but not if it came with seatbelts. So one would expect a similar situation to apply in the case of airbags.

Methinks you should be corresponding with ICBC, in writing, about these issues. Apart from anything else, if you have a $5,000 repair bill coming your way then putting in a claim would seem to make sense.

2011 Suzuki SX4

Thank you for your reply!

I looked into that the night of the incident, but the Takata Airbags were not installed in this car. I called ICBC as soon as the incident occured, but regretfully I do not have collision insurance for this vehicle. The value of the vehicle is only about $4500 so they would be declaring this a write off and trying to buy me out, which is bonkers to me, and which I would be fighting tooth an nail against anyways. The car has only 115,000kms and has been maintained and well cared for by only a couple of owners. I spent a lot of time, effort and money carefully choosing this car after test driving several other vehicles and spending a few hundred bucks on CARPROOFs and mechanical inspections.

​I have connected with ICBC digitally and on the telephone, but since I'm not covered by collision they've pretty much washed their hands of it. Like I mentioned, I'm working with the CVSE as they are the one's in charge of overlooking ICBC mandated mechanical inspections on vehicles. The car is used and did have to pass an ICBC mandated inspection (which include airbag tests) just two weeks before I bought it. I beleive these airbag exams and/or the mechanics either overlooked something or knowingly passed the vehicle, even with an issue.

I like your seatbelt analogy, and it might be true. However, I would like to know the true, factual, legal definitions regarding airbags. You are allowed by law to turn your airbags off, and you can change your stock steering wheel out. I need my car for work and I'm afraid without being able to drive it, I could lose my job.

Very expensive lesson learned, always pony up the extra cash for collision insurance even if your vehicle isn't worth much. That being said, if you saw my car you wouldn't beleive the airbag went off. Absolutely terrible situation, for sure, but I'm hoping that there are options out there for me.

J

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