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Airbags that can stand the test of time - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Airbags that can stand the test of time

Today, the average age of a car in America is roughly 11.4 years. Regular maintenance will help you keep your car running but can your airbags stand the test of time?

Some automakers recommend that older models have their airbags inspected a decade after the manufacture date.

In the early days of airbags it was recommended you get your airbags inspected after 10 years.

Some automakers even suggested they be replaced after 15. But advances in technology have enabled airbags to last as long as your vehicle is on the road.

Rick Hendrick Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, Ram and Fiat Fix Operations Director Gary Hammond says, "A consumer shouldn't have to worry about the airbag unless they were in an accident and it deployed."

In 1992, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety drove a 20 year old Chevy Impala, with over 100,000 miles, into a wall. Both the driver's airbag and passenger airbag successfully deployed.

"I've been with Chrysler for going on 22 years, in the parts and service end of the business, and we have never been told by our manufacture there's an expiration date on an airbag," says Hammond.

Engineers say the actual airbag will hold up but it's more likely that the electrical wires that control it may corrode over time.

"It could be a sensor. It could be a fault code with the wiring and again not normally having to change the airbag," says Hammond.

Airbags cannot be reused. They can only be used once. If yours inflates, you should get it replaced by an authorized repair center with new airbags and parts directly from the manufacturer.

Hammond says, "Those you cannot throw away. You can't sell them. They have to be either deployed and disposed of properly or sent back to the manufacturer."

Edmunds.com recommends if you drive a car from the late 1980s to mid-1990s make sure to check the owner's manual to see if the manufacture calls for an airbag replacement or inspection.

If you're concerned about the condition of your airbags, visit http://www.safercar.gov/vehicle+shoppers/air+bags/air+bag+-+vin+number, a government run web site that allows you to check on your vehicle's airbags by using the vehicle's identification number.

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