An airbag could be the final thing preventing you from being flung from your vehicle during a crash. However, without airbag sensors to signal the airbag that the crash is occurring, the airbag will fail to activate. The locations in which airbag sensors are positioned can vary.
Most American-made cars will have their airbag sensors located towards the front of the vehicle. Automakers locate the sensors in likely impact zones so that the sensors can signal the airbag to deploy as fast as possible. European-made vehicles often have crash sensors located in a compartment on the passenger side.
There are several types of airbag sensors, such as "gas dampened ball and tube" sensors. Other types include "Rolamite" sensors and "spring and mass" airbag sensors. Many newer model vehicles have what's called "solid state" crash sensors.
Airbag sensors can function in several different ways. Some types have a system with a ball that is held in place by a magnet, and is knocked loose from the magnet during a crash, hitting a switch that activates the airbag. Other sensors have chips that send electronic signals to the airbag when the vehicle is impacted hard enough.
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