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Side Airbags

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  • Side Airbags

    I'm from England.

    Airbags are a pretty new thing for us- about 5 yrs ago front driver airbags started coming through - then a year or two later front passenger. Now front airbags are almost standard on all cars.

    However - side airbags are now becoming common too on mass production vehicles. Despite looking all over the place the only advice I can find is the "5-10-20" rule....

    Now, we dont do any steering wheel operations if we have a driver airbag and we maintain the 10 inches distance- obviously - does this also equate to performing B-Post operations with side airbags? i.e. - is roof removal and B-Post rips a no-no?

    I figure you lot over in the US have had this problem for some time and I would welcome your advice.

  • #2
    It is still o.k. to cut posts, but now I wont cut without first pulling the plastic trim from the post so that I can see if there is anything that I would want to avoid.

    If you are working on a car that does have inflators in the posts, and the posts are deformed so much that you cant safely cut them, then you will have to come up with an alternate method of removing the roof, there are several alternative procedures, the one that I like the most is from Carl Avery, and he calls it the halo cut, hopefully he will see this post and explain this procedure to you if you would like.

    As we say in America my friend, cut it, spread it, or get out of the way!!!


    • #3
      I guess one method would be to use a recip saw and cut the roof round the post, effectively leaving the whole post in situ??

      Just one point on removing plastic trim - that is something I advocate all the time - 1. plastic trim interferes with the cut, and 2. you can find the line of least resistance / avoid any nasties! HOWEVER - if we are maintaining 5 niches from a side airbag - is it safe to go interfering with plastic trim on B-Posts?

      In addition to this - I understand that in some instances side airbags are situated in doors - how do you actually know WHERE the airbag is fitted? In the case of door mounted side airbags surely it is dangerous to conduct a door evolution? Is it a matter of just "knowing your vehicles" or are there some give away signs?


      • #4
        As for options to taking the roof, here's one that I read about earlier this year called 'scalping the roof'. You cut the roof with recipricating saws approximately 3 inches in from the A-post straight back to the rear window on both sides of the vehicle. You end up leaving the posts and 3 inches of roof on each side of the car. The big drawback I see is alot of jagged edges to be dealt with.

        As for door evolutions with door bags. At this point this type of bag is only found in mostly high price vehicles, that's my warning sign at this point. Although to get the full story, I suggest you get in touch with a Holmatro dealer for a copy of their new book. It's over $100 U.S. dollars, but it's very thorough. Everything from vin #'s to where batteries and air bags are located. Just recently my dept had a BMW involved in a rear end collision where one side door and head impact bag deployed and the other didn't. From the information I've read, I believe that going for the hinges of the front door is a very safe route to take, and in this case that is what the crew did without incident. They also cut the top and bottom of the B-Post and popped the pin on the rear door. Now thats an opening.

        Now my thoughts on the 5-10-20 rule are that you are not supposed to put your body within these distances to the air bags. If you need to cut near a bag I feel confident you can do so, after doing all of your hazard control duties, i.e. battery disconnection.


        • #5
          The roof evolution mentioned above - simple, effective - but like the author says - hazardous due to the sharp metal and the fact that there is still a lot of obstruction present.

          With regard to disconnecting batteries and treating as normal - if I'm right in my perception of what was written - is, in my opinion a complete no go.
          1. There is the problem regarding discharge times if the mechanism is electronic.
          2. There is always the chance that there is a secondary battery somewhere hidden away.

          As I understand it - even if the batteries are disconnected the airbags should still be considered live!

          As for the door evolution and starting hinge side - my fear on this one is the operating mechanism. If the operating mechanism is MECHANICAL rather than electronic, then there is a high chance that displacing the door could inadvertently operate the mechanism regardless of batteries etc.... Or does attacking from hinge side minimise the risk of inadvertent operation?

          Airbags are quite clearly a good safety feature for passengers, but quite a complex matter for us to get our heads round. Why can't manufacturers send out circulars explaining how best to deal with rescue scenarios? - as yet I have never seen such a document. DO they exist?


          • #6
            Other items to consider - in addition to side impact air bags in the B post - there are now "curtian" air bags mounted in the headliners on some models as well as seat belt tensioners in the B post of some cars (Memory fails me but I belive Volvo and BMW have used them for a few years)

            Just more food for though

            Take Care - Stay Safe


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