How Much Does It Cost to Replace Airbags? (2023 Update)
Drivers don’t often anticipate getting into a car accident, so few are prepared to handle the aftermath. There will be challenging questions to answer, such as how you’re going to repair your car. After a severe crash, that includes fixing your airbags.
Repairing the airbag is crucial after a collision, but unfortunately, you can’t cram it back into the steering column and call it a day. You have to replace the airbags, which generally involves professional assistance and, as you can imagine, some out-of-pocket expenses.
If you’re wondering how you can restore your car’s safety following a crash, we’ll break down the cost to replace airbags this year.
The Importance of Replacing Airbags
Airbags deploy in roughly 1/20th of a second when the sensor detects an impact equal to crashing into a brick wall at around 15 mph. The inflated cushion, coupled with the stopping power of a seatbelt, works to prevent a severe injury or death. Experts estimate that front airbags reduce the risk of fatalities for drivers and front-seat passengers by roughly 30%. According to the NHTSA, airbags have saved over 50,000 lives as of 2017, with front airbags saving nearly 2,800 people that year alone.
With the potential life-saving capabilities of airbags, manufacturers have innovated over the years to expand safety features in modern vehicles. Today, many vehicles come equipped with not only frontal but also side-curtain, rear-curtain, and knee airbags. You can even find some models with inflatable seatbelts, drop-down airbags to separate passengers, and airbags in the sunroof.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace Airbags?
It costs roughly $1,000–$2,000 to replace one airbag, with labor accounting for approximately one-third of the total expense. After a severe accident, airbag replacements can cost up to $6,000.
Driver-side front airbags are generally the least pricey at $200–$800 in parts. All other areas, including the passenger-side airbags, side-curtain airbags, and knee airbags are often more expensive, costing $400–$1,500 before labor.
What Affects the Cost to Replace Airbags?
The year, make, and model of your car will be one of the most significant influences on your airbag replacement cost. Luxury brands and models usually have the most expensive airbags, costing up to $5,000 for a single airbag in some instances!
Another essential consideration is where you’re sourcing the parts. The original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is the first place to look because they offer the best warranties on their products, and you can be sure of the reliability. It’s often the most expensive place to buy parts, but the assurance can be vital when replacing a crucial safety feature like an airbag.
Other places to look for replacement airbags include online retailers and junkyards. Sometimes, you can find a replacement steering column pre-loaded with a new airbag for less money than the airbag alone.
Take caution with buying parts from third-party suppliers, as you risk receiving incompatible or counterfeit components. These airbags may not deploy properly in a crash, which could cause you or a passenger to suffer a significant injury. Always research reviews and ratings for any online seller, and consider talking to a trusted technician for advice on sourcing parts.
Additional Costs to Anticipate
Airbags make up only one piece of your car’s Supplemental Restraint System (SRS). When you need to replace your airbags, you’ll often need to replace related parts.
In many cases, the impact sensor that tells the ECU, also called the airbag control module, to deploy the airbags is not reusable and will need a reset or replacement. Without a reset ECU, the indicator light will stay on, and the airbag won’t deploy even if you have a new one installed. Some online companies offer inexpensive reset services after a crash, but if you need a new ECU, it can cost an additional $400–$1,200.
After an accident, you may need to reset or replace several other SRS components, such as:
- Crash sensors
- Indicator light
- Cable reel
There are also non-SRS parts to consider, like the steering wheel, dashboard, and seatbelt pre-tensioners. These extra parts, the number of airbags deployed, and the associated labor all factor into the total costs.
Can I Drive After My Airbags Deploy?
There is no law against driving with your car after the airbags deploy, but it’s rarely a good idea. The most significant downside is you greatly reduce the safety of your vehicle. The potential for a fatality in a crash increases by 30% without these essential safety components.
Even if you’re comfortable driving without operating airbags, you may run into problems down the line when you need to renew your registration. The SRS indicator light will stay on if you don’t replace your airbag. In a state that requires annual inspections, such as North Carolina, your car may not pass, and you won’t be able to drive it legally. Any warning lights in the cluster are also an immediate red flag for any potential buyer, so you may lose out on a sale if you don’t fix it.
Does Insurance Cover Airbag Replacements?
Airbags can be expensive, but the good news is that, in many cases, you won’t have to pay anything out of pocket to replace them. Collision insurance will generally cover the repairs and replacement for any damaged parts—including your airbags—once you meet your deductible.
The high price of the airbags and any other necessary repairs may cause your insurance company to total the vehicle. In that case, they’ll offer a fair market amount for the actual cash value of your car just before the accident occurred.
Although the cost to replace airbags can be high, it’s well worth it to invest in quality in nearly every situation. Buy OEM parts when possible and work with a skilled, licensed mechanic to help you find and install new components immediately following a crash. It can be tempting to try a self-install or purchase cheap parts, but when it comes to your family’s safety the peace of mind you earn when you work with high-quality providers is priceless.
Featured Image Credit: Pixel-mixer, Pixabay