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BMW's HPS Airbag System Dangers!

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  • BMW's HPS Airbag System Dangers!

    A Posting From Forum Moderator Ron Moore

    All BMW vehicles that have a Head Protection System(HPS) side impact airbag system installed (1998 or newer) also have two pressurized canisters installed on the vehicle to deploy this tubular airbag.

    There are now three types of inflators for the HPS depending upon year of manufacture and model of vehicle. The newest inflators contain hydrogen and nitrogen gas(15% / 85%).

    Two of the three types of BMW inflator canisters resemble a long slender metal tube. They remind me of a small can of spray paint or a tube like the kind that an expensive cigar comes in. These long cylinder inflators are located inside the vehicle very near the A-pillar and door hinge area. The third type of BMW inflator is a squatty little cylinder that reminds me of the old fashion ink bottle back in the days of quill pens and Ben Franklin.

    Regardless of type, these inflators are firmly bolted to a large pipe and bracket support structure behind the dash and instrument panel. They are at the extreme left and right sides of the vehicle. Remember there are two: one for each side HPS airbag.

    They are inside the vehicle but not at the kick panel area. They are secured directly to the large tubular dash pipe assembly that runs across the dash underneath all the dashboard and instrument panel stuff. They are just inside the A-pillar; no more than an inch from the A-pillar/firewall area itself.

    The top of the pressurized cylinder is located just about even with the level of the top door hinge. The bottom of the long cylinders extend down from that point about 7 or 8 inches. Well within the cutting zone of power cutters and recip saws!

    With the door open or the door removed, you cannot see these cylinders. You would have to tear out the end of the dashboard and instrument panel. You would have to expose everything deep down till you reach this pipe reinforcement and then find the very end of it where it attaches to the A-pillar in order to see the inflators. That is where you will find each inflator canister.

    If you are doing any work at the front door area of a BMW equipped with a 'loaded' HPS side imapct airbag system, you are dangerously close to these pressurized canisters. To know if the BMW has a roof-mounted airbag system, check for the HPS airbag ID. It is on the inside edge of the A-pillar molding. It is either a small HPS button near the top of the A-pillar or a long length trim piece running along the length of the A-pillar trim that states HPS on it.

    If you cut the A-pillar for a dash evolution (rolling the dash or jacking the dash), make your cuts LOW for BMWs. The lower you go on this particular manufacturer's cars, the further you are from their pressurized HPS cylinders.

    If an HPS system has deployed, the canister will be empty of its contents and will present no obstacle or undue hazard during any door or dash evolutions.

    At this point in time, only BMW locates pressurized cannisters in the A-pillar area. Volvo, Mercedes and Audi place their's within our cutting zone at the C- or D-pillar. Same concerns just the other end of the vehicle.

    Strip away the roof pillar trim and look before you cut any roof pillar!

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  • #2
    Thanks for the Info Ron, I whole heartedly agree with the removal of interior body clading before doing any cutting on late model vehicles. My little saying is "Strip before you Rip" Visualization will do alot of good for us all.

    Carl D. Avery


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