The airbag systems are common in today’s automobiles. They are the most important safety equipment in your car. An airbag can protect you from getting a serious injuries or other fatalities. It works in the milliseconds to cushion your body during sudden impact.

Earlier, they were found only in the front dashboard, but now they are present at multiple points in the vehicle. This was all possible due to continuous research and development in the safety of a vehicle. Here in this article, we are going to know how does an airbag works? and What are its components ?

What Are Airbags?

Airbags are stretchable materials that are located in a different part of your vehicle. Airbags are tightly packed in their places. When a vehicle collides with anything, some sensors trigger the inflation of an airbag. The whole process happens in milliseconds.

During a crash or sudden stopping of a car, the person’s body follows the Newtons Second Law, which states that a body in motion will continue in motion until an external force is applied to change it. In the case of our vehicle, the momentum of the body stops by the banging on the steering, dashboard, or windshield. Therefore, it becomes very important to cushion these places. 

The airbags slow down the rate of reduction in the momentum of the body. Moreover, it gives more area to absorb force rather than a specific place in your body. This is the reason why airbag inflates and deflates suddenly bringing down the momentum securely.

 What are the components of an airbag?

There two most important components of an airbag- sensors and inflator.

Crash Sensors

It plays a crucial role in the successful inflation of an airbag. It work as a stimulus via different actions like the sudden stopping of the car, increased pressure due to the movement of car pieces, and more.

The airbag control unit, located in the front end of the vehicle, monitors speed, brakes pressure and impact, seat occupant status, and other aspects of vehicle with the help of sensors. The signals from the sensors are sent to the airbag control unit to analyze the data. Thus, airbags are deployed accordingly.

There are two types of airbag sensors namely mechanical and electrical. Some electrical sensors use electromechanical ball and tube mechanism. The mechanism has a small tube containing switch and ball that stays together by a small magnet. When a collision occurs, the ball yanks towards the tube and completes the circuit that further initiates the inflation.

The mechanical sensors work somewhat similar to electrical sensors. They have a design and mechanism that actuates a firing pin triggering a small explosion after the crash. The mechanical sensor doesn’t require power to work, therefore we cannot deactivate it like in the case of electrical sensors by removing the battery.


Once the sensors send signals to the control unit, it actuates the inflator system. The inflator triggers the explosion which releases nitrogen gas, filling into the stretchable airbag. This all happens in the fraction of seconds. The airbags deflate itself on its own once it deploys.

Working of an Airbag

When your car hits something may it be a pole, another vehicle, or any object, the accelerometer (sensor) triggers the electrical circuit.

Electrical current passes through the circuit and reaches the heating element, which heats up very quickly and ignites the charge like solid pellets of Sodium Azide (NaN3). Then an explosion occurs releasing nitrogen gas which fills in the airbag.

Many tiny holes in the airbag start to deflate it as soon as it inflates. The reason for it to happen is that airbags should be in the deflating condition while your body is hitting it. This allows the maximum absorption of force, otherwise, your head would bounce back on a fully inflated bag causing severe injuries.

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