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If the Airbags Deployed, Does that Mean My Car is Totaled?

when airbags deploy is the car totaled

There’s a common misconception that airbag deployment means a car is considered a total loss. While it can signify the result of a violent impact, it does not mean that your vehicle cannot be repaired. 

About Airbag Deployment

Seatbelts get a lot of credit for saving lives, and rightfully so. However, airbags are also responsible for reducing the number of deaths on the road each year. Both seatbelts and airbags are your direct lines of defense in a car accident. 

Both work together in a violent impact. Seatbelts restrain your body as much as possible, and airbags soften the impact and prevent you from hitting something harder, like the steering wheel or windshield. 

In most cars, there are frontal airbags that deploy in head-on collisions and side airbags, which release during side collisions. Most cars manufactured since the 90s come equipped with front airbags, but not all have side airbags. 

How do Airbags Deploy?

We usually think of airbags deploying in violent crashes, but the truth is they can deploy in moderate and even minor collisions. 

Airbags deploy when an electronic signal is sent to the airbag system. The airbag immediately inflates with a non-hazardous gas. Although instant inflation saves time and can save your life, it can cause injury. Nevertheless, an injury from an airbag does not compare to the types of injuries it prevented, such as colliding against a windshield or other hard surfaces.

Side airbags deploy much quicker than frontal airbags because there is less distance between your head and the side of the car. Front airbags deploy at a slower rate, but they are your primary defense system. They can cause harm if you are positioned too close to the steering wheel. For this reason, anyone under the age of 13 should sit in the back. 

The Cost to Replace Airbags

While airbag deployment does not necessarily mean a total loss, it does add to the grand total of repairing your car. Replacing airbags is not cheap. On average, airbag replacement can end up costing anywhere between $1,000 to $6,000. 

This cost has to be added on top of all the other damages your car sustained. So while airbags deploying does not mean that your vehicle has reached the end of its life, it can put it over the total loss threshold. 

The Cost of Repairing all Damages To Your Car Determines if It’s a Total Loss

Body shop estimates take into consideration several factors before determining whether your car is repairable or a total loss. Also, insurance companies and claims adjusters may have specific procedures and requirements for how they deem a car repairable or not.

However, the concept is relatively simple: if the cost of repairing your vehicle exceeds its value, then your car is declared a total loss. When we refer to the value of your car, we are specifically referring to the cash value of the vehicle. 

A car accident can damage several parts. To determine the total cost for repairs, things like parts, materials, paint, and labor all have to be tallied up. 

Airbag replacement is included in the final estimate for repairs. And as we mentioned before, this can be expensive. Airbag deployment alone won’t make your car a total loss, but it can push it closer toward that limit, especially if you have an older vehicle. 

Always be sure to have an estimate done by the body shop of your choice. If your airbags deployed and your insurance company deems it repairable, you want to be sure that you are working with a body shop that has a good reputation and can be trusted to do quality work. 


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