Is The Car Totaled if the Airbags are Deployed?

The common misconception is that the car is gone if the airbags are deployed during a car crash or accident. Airbags are one of the most common safety devices used when involved in a car accident, and they have been used to prevent fatalities in auto accidents.

In this article, we will be looking at if a car is written off if the airbags are deployed during an accident and what you can do when this happens.

Is the car totaled if the airbags are deployed?

No, airbags deployed during an accident do not write off the car. If the vehicle’s airbags deploy and the cost of replacing them is more than the total loss threshold of your State, then the vehicle is declared a write-off. The general guideline for when a vehicle is considered totaled is if the cost to repair the damage is more than 70% of the vehicle’s value.

So for example, if the vehicle has a fair market value of $5000, the threshold is $3500. If there is $2000 worth of damage, then the vehicle can be repaired and is not written off.

If the vehicle has a $4000 damage, then the vehicle will be considered totaled even though it is technically less than the value of the car. In situations like this, you need to know the threshold value of your individual state.

What is the total loss percentage by state?

The airbag replacement laws differ between states, with the loss threshold sitting at an average of 70% of the vehicle’s total value. This means that if the cost of your repairs exceeds 70% of your car’s actual value, then your vehicle will be considered totaled.

While several states sit at 70% or 75%, it’s up to each state’s legislature to determine what is considered a total loss threshold. Instead of a flat percentage, some states allow the insurer to decide the value based on a total loss formula (TFL) to determine the total loss cost.

How much does it cost to fix a deployed airbag?

One thing you should be aware of is that airbags cannot be fixed. When they are deployed during an accident, you should consider replacing them.

While most manufacturers will have different prices for their airbags replacement, you should have between $1000 and $1750.

Just for the standard airbag replacement, the mechanic will have to:

  • Replace the airbag control module
  • Replace seat belt buckles and retractors
  • Install a new airbag
  • Repair or replace wiring and other connectors that may have been damaged

Is it legal to drive a car with airbags?

There are very few laws that exist regarding driving with or without airbags, seeing as it is a modern invention. But before you drive a vehicle without any airbag, you need to be aware that you are driving without a major piece of automotive safety equipment. If you are considering buying a used car and you want to double-check if the car was ever totaled, then you should run a VIN check to get detailed information of the vehicle history.

According to the NHTSA, “From 1987 to 2017, frontal airbags saved 50,457 lives.”

Airbags are standard on all vehicles produced in the USA today, and must make sure that they are replaced immediately if they have been deployed.

Does my insurance cover airbag replacements?

The replacement of your airbags by your insurance company will largely depend on your vehicle and the estimated cost of repairs. As mentioned above your state threshold decides if the vehicle will be written off or if it can be repaired. 

Generally, your insurance covers airbag replacement if:

  • Your car isn’t totaled
  • You are hit by another driver
  • You have collision insurance which basically covers all damages regardless of fault.

You should speak to your insurance company to get this issue sorted. out.


Generally, a vehicle is not totaled if the airbags are deployed during an accident. It can be repaired only if the cost of replacing them is less than the state threshold. As always if you find yourself in the market for a used vehicle, you want to run a VIN check to find out if the vehicle has been previously written off.

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