Is it legal to modify Airbag System on a Car
Updated 1 year 1 month ago
Is your airbag light on? Wondering if you can remove the steering wheel airbag or install an airbag bypass module? In this article, we will explain the pros and cons of modifying the airbag system (also referred to as SRS or Supplemental Restraint System) such as installing airbag bypass module and what you need to keep in mind if you install one.
The Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) light on your dash lets you know that your car's airbag system is working, by illuminating for about five seconds when you start the car. If the SRS or airbag light remains on, that means there is a problem with the airbag system.
Is it legal to install an airbag bypass module or remove airbag?
It is illegal to modify airbag system on a car without prior approval from NHTSA. Airbag systems are regulated by The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Regardless of what the state law says. In the US, it is illegal to modify the supplement restraint system on cars. It is unlawful to install an airbag bypass module, remove or disable an airbag or change the airbag system.
The only time that airbag system modification is allowed is to accommodate an individual with disabilities. You will need to contact National Highway Trafic Safety Administration to get approval before you modify the airbag system on your car. Link: nhtsa.govBack to top
What does an airbag bypass module do?
Let's take a simple scenario. Your airbag light has come on and it was diagnosed that the passenger seat mat is defective. The right way to fix this problem is to replace the passenger seat mat. Instead, you read on forums and watch videos on Youtube on how to install an airbag bypass emulator. An airbag bypass costs $50 vs. $500+ at the dealer to properly fix the problem.
So you decided to install the airbag bypass. But what does it do? A seat airbag bypass tricks your SRS/airbag computer to think that there is a person always sitting on the passenger seat. It allows you to clear the airbag light. Your airbag will deploy if you do or don't have a passenger on the front seat. It will also deploy if you have a child sitting on the front seat.
The advantages of installing a passenger occupancy mat bypass are:
- You can turn off the airbag warning light
- Be certain that the passenger airbag will always deploy.
What you need to know if you install an airbag bypass module
Before you consider installing an airbag bypass module, check to see if there is a recall or service bulletin for your vehicle related to the airbag system. If the problem is common for your make and model, there is a good chance there is a recall and the dealer will fix your airbag system for free. Even if your car is out of warranty.
Keep these things in mind if you decide to install an airbag bypass module on your car.
- If you get into an accident, more airbags will deploy than necessary. Replacing the passenger airbag is costly as in most cases it requires the whole dash to be replaced.
- If you installed a passenger seat occupancy sensor the passenger airbag will deploy even if there is no passenger.
- Do not place an infant seat or young children in the front passenger seat. Passenger airbag will deploy and can injure young children or infants if the car seat is on the front passenger seat.
- If you get in an accident, your insurance company may refuse to pay for damages if they find out that the restraint system was modified.
- When you sell the car, disclose the fact that there is an airbag bypass module installed or if the airbag system was modified. Write it on the bill of sale and have the buyer sign it. Otherwise, you will get sued and will certainly lose the case.
- Most states perform a safety inspection. The inspectors don't dive in too much to find out if you modified the airbag system. Don't assume that because the car passed safety inspection it is ok or legal.
- If you get pulled over by a police officer, you may get a ticket for modifying the restraint system. For example, if you removed the steering wheel airbag and installed an aftermarket steering wheel.
If I install an airbag bypass the airbags will not deploy.
- If you perform the installation procedure properly, there is no reason why the airbag would not deploy.
A deployed airbag makes the car salvage.
- If the airbag has deployed the car doesn't have to get a salvage title. Older cars often end up with a salvage title because the value to fix older cars is at least 70% or more of the value of the vehicle.
If I install an airbag bypass the airbag off will turn off?
- In most cases, you will need a scanner that can read and clear airbag codes for your make. A generic OBD2 scanner cannot erase or reset the airbag light. Even if you installed an airbag bypass.
My airbags don't work because they didn't deploy.
- If you get in a minor accident typically under 25mph your airbags may not deploy. Most cars are designed to not deploy the airbag at low speeds or when they are not necessary. Airbags may not deploy if you get hit on a corner at low speed or in a way that an airbag sensor doesn't pick up the impact.
My car won't pass safety inspection because airbag light is on.
- In most states in the US, you can pass the safety inspection with the airbag light on. With that said there are a few states where you can not pass with the airbag light on. In all states, you will fail the inspection if you have modified the airbag system. Removed an airbag or are found that you installed an airbag bypass module.