The Road Ahead : August September 2008
torquing point WITH JOHN EWING RACQ VEHICLE TECHNOLOGIES Life of an airbag A irbags are one of the better known safety features on modern vehicles. Their ability to reduce serious injuries in crashes has been well demonstrated, and the majority of new vehicles now offer at least a driver’s airbag as standard. Side and curtain airbags are also becoming increasingly commonplace. The RACQ strongly supports advanced safety features, including comprehensive airbag packages and electronic stability control, being provided as standard or, at a minimum, as affordable options on all new cars. However, as airbags have been available for more than 20 years on vehicles sold in Australia, consumers should be aware that airbag system components have a lifespan, like other vehicle components. Popular local vehicles from Ford and Holden have featured airbags since the early 1990s. Refl ecting concern that system ageing may degrade protection, some car manufacturers schedule system checking and nominated component replacement after a specifi ed number of years, typically from around 10 years onwards. “...consumers should be aware that airbag system components have a lifespan....” In some of these vehicles, the airbag system dash light may be triggered to stay on at this point. Buyers and owners of older airbag equipped cars should consult the vehicle handbook or the vehicle manufacturer/ dealer to check if a service life or other scheduled maintenance applies (irrespective of dash light operation). The actual cost of renewing system components will vary from model to model. Generally though, it can be quite expensive and may represent a substantial expenditure relative to the residual value of a car 10 or more years old. It should also be noted that roadworthy requirements mean the system must be operational with system check lights functioning correctly. So disconnecting the airbag system or the related dash light, or ignoring an illuminated light isn’t really an acceptable option. Used car buyers should also be aware that some unscrupulous folk will render airbag systems inoperative rather than repair a deployed or malfunctioning system correctly. Clearly such a system couldn’t protect occupants as intended in a severe crash. Looking for correct system dash light function is advised as a basic check. RACQ isn’t aware of any systems that have failed to operate correctly due to age degradation, but for safety’s sake, the potential shouldn’t be ignored. If you’d like some technical advice, visit racq.com.au or call RACQ’s Technical Advisory Service on 3666 9148 or 1800 623 456 (members in country areas). CumminsNitro © PPQ 305 WON 06 GCT 07 COW805 Travel with your team.
October November 2008
June July 2008