If My Airbags Deploy in an Accident, Will My Car Automatically Be Totaled?

Have you ever heard that your car will be totaled if your airbags deploy during a collision? Fortunately, this is a bit of a misconception. While it’s true an accident that causes the airbag to go off will often result in damage that renders the car a total loss, this isn’t always the case. Here’s a closer look at why airbags can total a car and what you can expect from the repair process.

What Does It Mean When a Vehicle is Totaled?

Many people think a car is totaled if the cost of repairs is more than what the vehicle is worth. In general, this is true. To be more exact, the typical guideline is that a vehicle is totaled if the cost of repairs is more than 70% of its value. For example, if your vehicle has a cash value of $5,000, it would be considered totaled once the repair threshold reached $3,500 or more.

We consider several factors when determining whether your car is repairable or a total loss. Likewise, insurance companies and claims adjusters have their own procedures and requirements to take into account. To determine the cost of repairs, everything (including parts, materials, paint, and labor) needs to be factored in, including the cost of airbag replacement. Even though the cost of the replacement airbag likely won’t make your car a total loss, it can significantly increase the total repair cost—which could push your vehicle closer to being considered totaled, especially if you have an older vehicle.

Typically, insurance will cover airbag replacement if:

  • Your car isn’t totaled
  • You’re not at fault for the accident
  • You have collision insurance, which pays for collision damage regardless of who’s at fault

Will I Have to Replace My Airbags After an Accident?

If you were involved in an accident, the airbag sensors were likely triggered, and the airbags may have inflated. Depending on the model of your vehicle, you may only need to have your airbags and the airbag sensor reset. In other cases, you may need a complete replacement. If your airbags need to be replaced, it’s best to have this done as soon as possible; if you’re involved in another accident in the future and you don’t have functional airbags, you risk severe injury or even death.

The Process for Resetting or Repairing Airbags

Here’s an overview of the steps needed to get your airbags repaired and functioning again:

  • Resetting the airbag warning light
    The airbag sensors can be triggered even if the airbags didn’t deploy. Most cars have a warning light that indicates there’s an issue with the airbags; if the light is on, or your airbags went off, you’ll need to have the airbag sensor reset, otherwise the airbags won’t inflate correctly if you get into another accident.
  • Resetting the airbags
    In some models, the airbags can simply be reset after they’ve deployed, as long as they’re not damaged. Resetting the airbags involves putting the airbags back into the airbag module and then resetting the airbag light. However, many newer vehicles don’t allow for the airbags to be reset; your only option is replacement.
  • Airbag replacement
    If the airbags were damaged or the vehicle doesn’t allow them to be reset, you’ll need to have them replaced. This involves removing the entire airbag module and replacing it with a new one. If the airbag was in your steering wheel, you may also need to replace the entire wheel and steering column. Once everything has been installed, the airbag sensor will need to be reset.

After an Accident, Call Cline Collision Center

Getting into an accident is a hassle, even when the damage is minor—but safety should always be your top priority. If the vehicle hasn’t been totaled, it’s well worth it to get your airbags reset or replaced, even if it seems unnecessary.

If you’ve been in an accident and the airbags deployed, or your airbag warning light is on, call Cline Collision Center. We can assess the damage to your vehicle, as well as whether you’ll need to have your airbags reset or replaced. Call us today at (707) 591-9909 to schedule an estimate appointment, or use our convenient online scheduling.