How to tell if airbags work in used cars

Written by jennifer patterson
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How to tell if airbags work in used cars
Airbags in a used vehicle should inflate upon impact. (airbag image by Dimitar Atanasov from

Everything in a used car needs to be in working condition, just as they are in new cars. Air bags are safety devices that protect the a vehicle's occupants in the event of an accident. During a collision, the airbags are supposed to inflate instantly to cushion the occupants. When purchasing a used car, make sure the airbags are working.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Look at your dashboard when you start the car. You should see the "SRS" symbol illuminate, then go out in a few seconds.

  2. 2

    Check the history of the car at a company such as (see Resources). Look for a history of crashes, repairs or flood damage.

  3. 3

    Have your used car checked by an independent mechanic. He will check the airbags electronically to determine if they are working correctly.

  4. 4

    Determine if the car was previously recalled, by visiting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website (see Resources). Make sure you are not driving a car that was recalled due to defective airbags.

  5. 5

    Inspect the airbag cover. The original covers should have "SRS" or "S/R" stamped on them. If the airbags where replaced they may not have those symbols.

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