Airbag Update 2007/2007½ Model Year

Sept. 1, 2007

SUBJECT: Airbag Update 2007 and 2007½ Model Year

OBJECTIVE: Understand unique safety considerations involving specific 2007 and 2007½ model year vehicles mentioned in this update column

TASK: Given the specific vehicles mentioned to review and examine, the rescue team shall identify the airbag components or systems presented and shall develop operating guidelines for dealing with these specific vehicle challenges.

This University of Extrication column provides a unique look at several critical safety considerations involving supplemental restraint airbag systems in late-model vehicles. Each item is listed and the challenges of that technology are discussed.

Seat airbag IDs at bottom rear of seat

Airbag IDs for side-impact airbags located in front seats are typically found along the outboard edge of the seat and are generally visible from the front occupant area. The new Volvo XC90 SUV, however, takes a different approach. The airbag IDs for the front occupant seat side airbags are not visible from the front of the seat. The ID is a cloth "shirt tag" style ID that is only visible from behind the front seat. The ID is positioned low along the outer edge of the seat near the bottom of the seatback.

Airbags are NOT on the B-pillar!

Don't be confused. Airbag IDs for roof-mounted airbags have nothing to do with the location of the roof airbag or the stored gas inflator modules. That's why you may hear someone say that their vehicle has an airbag "on the B-pillar." It doesn't! The ID may be there but the airbag is not mounted onto the B-pillar. Don't be fooled.

Airbags can be in folding rear seats

It seems odd but new models of vehicles with fold-down rear seats can also have side-impact airbags within these very seats. In the past, all rear seat side airbags were rigid, fixed seats. The latest models have proved that airbags can and will be found in rear seats regardless of whether they are rigid such as in four-door vehicles or are fold-down as typically found on a coupe, two-door vehicle. Check them out.

Airbags can be in doors and seats on the same vehicle

We have had vehicles with four door-mounted side-impact airbags and we've had vehicles with four seat-mounted airbags but we've never had a combination of door and seat airbags until now. This Mercedes sedan is an example of how side-impact airbags can now be a total mix; and a confusing mix at that.

The vehicle shown has two frontal airbags, a roof-mounted window curtain airbag on each side of the roof, airbags inside the outboard edges of each front seat and airbags inside the door panels of both rear doors.

Think about it. The front doors have no airbags but the rear doors do. The front seats have airbags but the rear seats don't. Make sure your personnel are aware that door and seat airbags can now be found on the same vehicle. That's a new one for all of us!

The "double" glove compartment

Hyundai has a new minivan called the Entourage. There is an unusual design feature of the front instrument panel that is worthy of note. The Entourage has a normal-looking glove compartment positioned at about knee level for a seated passenger. But above that, it has another cover plate and a plastic grip handle. It looks like a weird design for the blowout panel of a passenger's frontal airbag. It turns out that this is a second glove compartment situated directly above the lower one. The passenger's airbag is located beneath the trim of the instrument panel; completely out of sight.

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