Ford Service Expert

Ford Service Expert
The air bag system is designed to stay out of sight until it is activated. The air bag system is designed to deploy in frontal and front-angled collisions more severe than hitting a parked vehicle of similar size and weight head-on at about 28 mph (45 km/h). Because the system senses the crash severity rather than vehicle speed, some frontal collisions at speeds above
28 mph (45 km/h) will not inflate the air bag. The system activates when the sensors detect a forward deceleration equal to or greater than the deceleration experienced if you would drive your vehicle into a solid wall at 14 mph. In some side impacts, the forward deceleration of your vehicle can be great enough to deploy your air bag.

The following four steps show how the air bag system works:
1. Sensors in the vehicle will detect the degree of severity of a frontal impact. When the sensor system is activated, electric current flows to the inflator and the system ignites the gas generant.
2. The propellant then rapidly burns in the metal container. The rapid burning produces nitrogen gas and small amounts of dust. The nitrogen gas and dust are cooled and filtered during inflation of the air bag.
3. The inflating supplemental air bag splits open the trim cover. The supplemental air bag then rapidly unfolds and inflates in front of the driver.

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4. After inflation, the gas empties through holes in the air bag. The air bag deflates at once.

The surface of the air bags and the vehicle interior may be dusted with a powdery residue. The powder is cornstarch or talcum powder, which is used to lubricate the air bag as it inflates, and sodium compounds such as sodium carbonates (e.g., baking soda), and possibly a very small amount of sodium hydroxide that may be irritating to the skin and eyes, but is not toxic.

Right after air bag inflation, you may notice smoke (from the powder and dust) and smell the burnt propellant. This is normal.


Air bag system components get hot after inflation. Do not touch them after inflation.

Air bags may not inflate in certain frontal collisions, even though the vehicle may be badly damaged. The fact that your air bag did not inflate in such a collision does not mean that something is wrong with the air bag system. Rather, it means the crash forces were not severe enough to need an air bag to prevent serious injury .

Ford Service Expert