Auto Mechanic Training 101: Air Bags Explained for Students in Car Repair Courses
Second only to seatbelts, airbags are one of the most important emergency safety features available in modern cars. They activate during crashes, with the goal of preventing bodily harm caused by an occupant’s sudden impact with the interior surfaces of a car, and can prove lifesaving in many circumstances.
There have also been accidents caused by airbags, though, meaning the technology isn’t always completely safe. That has not stopped car makers from looking into more ways airbags can be used to further improve the safety of cars for their occupants.
Curious about airbags? Read on for a quick look at the state of the technology today.
How Airbags Deploy: An Overview for Students in Mechanic Colleges
Air bags are plastic bags that are stored inside of panels in a car. They are typically located in the steering wheel, the passenger-side dashboard, and sometimes in doors as well.
When an impact quickly reduces the speed of a car, sensors called “accelerometers” pass a current to special circuits in the vehicle. These circuits spark small explosions, which shoot the airbags out of their panels. The airbags then neutralize the forward momentum of the occupants in the vehicle.
Air bags are single-use, so whenever you encounter a vehicle that has deployed its airbags, they will need to be replaced. Depending on the model of the vehicle, the price for the parts and labour can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand.
Pros With Auto Mechanic Training May Know That Faulty Parts Can Turn Airbags Lethal
Though graduates of mechanic colleges can expect airbags to deploy safely most of the time, there are still risks associated with the technology.
From 2002 to 2015, airbag components from Takata, an auto parts company, were installed in vehicles from several manufacturers. It was discovered that the airbag inflator sometimes exploded into pieces when the airbag was deployed, resulting in shrapnel flying at vehicle occupants. As of October 2016, 11 deaths were recorded in the US as a result of this phenomenon, along with over 100 injuries.
It is important to note that the vehicles known to have these parts were recalled, but some owners were either unaware or did not care. In your career, you might want to notify clients when you notice they are driving a vehicle with recalled parts, as it could very well save their life.
New Airbag Technology Is On the Way, and Might Improve Overall Safety
In an effort to improve the safety of vehicle occupants, engineers are continuing to come up with innovative applications for airbag technology.
One example of upcoming technology you might soon see after auto mechanic training is “knee airbags.” Located at leg level, these bags are meant to prevent legs from being damaged when there is a traumatic accident. Another is the “center” airbag, which inflates between the driver and front passenger. This is usually released when there is a passenger-side collision, or as an additional safety measure for head-on or driver’s side impacts. There is even work being done to introduce inflatable seat belts, which would work a little like a hybrid between air bags and regular seatbelts.
It’s a little early to see which of these new technologies will prove effective, but you might see these, and other new approaches to air bags, in the early years of your career in automobile repair.
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