Reader Question: Air Bag Disconnect?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Mike asks: Several years ago I came across a company on the Internet that offered, for a modest fee, instructions for disabling an automotive air bag in such a way that the module would think the system was ready (passed the initialization test) but the bag(s) would never actually deploy in the event of a collision. The dash indicator would also extinguish, thinking the system was enabled and ready. I believe the name of the site was something simple like “Air Bag Disconnect” (.com). Well, I can’t find hide nor hair of them anymore, and now that I’ve purchased an old, mostly-stripped-of-technology 1999 Jeep Wrangler, I’d like to disable the air bags in this way. Are you aware of anyone out there offering such a service (that you can say out loud)?

Thanks for your time!

My reply: I’ll say it out loud in a hot second…!

This is doable – and parts and instructions (see here and here for examples) are readily available.

But it’s a technically illegal – thing.

You are not allowed to “defeat” any federally mandated saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety device – including known-to-be-defective ones that have killed people and may kill you, too. Air bags aren federally mandated “supplemental restraints” – part of the federally mandated roster of saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety equipment.

If you do so, the car may not pass state saaaaaaaaaaafety inspection, if you have to deal with that. And regardless, you will have to  do this job yourself because it is illegal to pay a shop to “defeat” a saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety device fitted to a street-driven car.

The situation is analogous to asking a muffler shop to cut out your catalytic converters. If they do it, they risk a Hut! Hut! Hutting!  Which is why most won’t touch this sort of work.

However, you can “get away” with doing the deed yourself. It’s still illegal, of course. But who’s gonna know if you don’t tell?

The procedure isn’t technically difficult. And the how-to-do is easy enough to find. See the links above. But you will have to do it on your own –  just as you’d have to hollow out your car’s cats yourself, if you happened to be so inclined!

. . .

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  1. It’s not just the weight. too many airbags cause more injuries than they prevent. At least according to switched on doctors and nurses who see these injuries every day.

  2. How much weight could be saved by removing all the useless ones, like side impact, curtain and other ones they’d probably not check for in the first place?

    • Hi Zane,

      The air bags themselves don’t weigh that much – but the structures they’re mounted in (and which comprise part of the air bag “system”) no doubt add a few hundred pounds.

      Also a few thousand dollars…


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