Air bags didn’t deploy

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Pmongii
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Air bags didn’t deploy

Post by Pmongii »

I had a 2004 s60 2.5l, great car. I was in an accident on December 18,2017. No one else involve just myself, happen due to bad road conditions. What I want to say is that it was a major wreck, first hit head on and spun and bashed in all four corners of the car. Only going 65 so not really speeding on interstate. My air bags did not deploy. I was amazed that how hard I hit head on and nothing. I would have been saved a lot of my own body damage if the bags came out. I did have my seat belt on but I hit the steering wheel and just blasted my right shoulder, jolted neck and back. Volvo is known for safety because of how well built their cars are. I am grateful that I walked away without a scratch, only with internal injuries. I contacted volvo to inform them of my accident and that the air bags failed. And if they should investigate if it’s a defect in the car. I was finally contacted by volvo after sending them picture they requested. Very saddened that I was told that air bags in a Volvo are a bonus and don’t have to deploy because the sub frame by looking at the pictures said the rep from volvo took the brunt of the impact . Can any one confirm this for me? I thought air bags go off no matter what whenever you have a head on collision.
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Post by abscate »

Every manufacturer is different but roughly speaking an airbag should go off on impact with a solid object at 15-20 mph, and a comparable mass object ( like another car) at twice that speed.

That's relative speed, not your speedometer speed. People are notoriously bad at judging relative speed, especially in a skid.

The sensors and algorithms for Air bags are pretty robust. Looking at your car, you certainly didn't dissipate energy from a 65 mph head on collision into a barrier in that car.
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Post by oragex »

Thank you in the first place for sharing this with us, and I feel sorry for the physical pain you have and wish you get better and with least sequels possible.

As always, there is a possibility there was a defect in the airbag system, not necessarily from the manufacturing but rather from a previous owner or mechanic work or even from a previous repair after an accident. A technical inspector could look at it an find the issue if there was any. I would contact both NHTSA and IIHS. Speaking of pictures, I would have liked to see a picture taken on the side of the car (from both sides) near the front end - a little bit like in my picture.

As for the answer from Volvo, I believe you contacted the local dealership, which is not useful. I would rather contact with an email, pictures and even an inspector report the main US Volvo headquarters.

Just from my own thought, the way it appears in the pictures it looks like the front bumper was quite deformed and tossed sideways and downwards by several inches. From what we know from the internet, that should have triggered the airbag system. If you also think you hit the steering wheel with the face or the chest that would certainly meant there was a failure in the airbag system. The seatbelt keeps you in place on lower speed crashes but allows the body to move more forward in higher speeds where the airbag would deploy. So if body parts hit the steering wheel it means the speed was high enough for the airbags to should have deployed.

As for your own body pain, the back and neck pain were possibly caused by the whiplash movement (google up "car whiplash") which was more severe since the body moved more forwards.

The shoulder pain could have been caused by the side impacts when the car spun and hit sideways - the shoulder could have impacted the front passenger seat in the process. It is very unfortunate as a situation.
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Post by abscate »

The airbag is triggered by acceleration, which is difficult to assess by looking at damage. I would guess that the damage shown would be enough to trigger the airbag, but thats a guess based on my sparse knowledge.
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Post by matthew1 »

Pmongii, glad your injuries were of a severity where you could walk away. Sorry you lost a good car, lots of time probably, and pain.

Can you clarify if it was a local Volvo dealer or VCNA (Volvo Cars North America) you contacted? Would you care to share the letter you got? If it's a physical letter, if you can't blur out your personal details, I can. You can reach me offline at matt@matthewsvolvosite.com.

I can't make a comment on the condition vs. airbag deployment state that would be worth a penny, but I can say I've seen plenty of cars whose airbags deployed, and the damage was negligible.

In 2012 my ex and son were in a wreck that (insurance) totalled my ex-2004 V70 R (sorry for the odd phrasing... odd situation) and fired the front airbags, and it had much less damage than that, and both my son and my ex were entirely uninjured, although I regretfully don't have a photo of the V70 R post-accident. Admittedly, that was a stoplight rear-end situation which is 100% apples-oranges with your wreck.

Also regretfully, I didn't buy it from the insurance company. But that whole thing was in my ex's court.
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Post by RickHaleParker »

G-force is what determines how much damage the body incurs, that is why they crash test cars into a brick wall.

A G-force sensor is used to determine if the Airbags deploy. When to trigger is a knife's edge, they don't want the Airbags too trigger happy because Airbags can maul and kill.

When to deploy comes down to the safety engineers best risk assessment. Sometimes you better off taking the bumps and bruises then getting punched by an Airbag.
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Post by cn90 »

Airbag is deployed by deceleration, usually around 7g deceleration.

The sensors are mounted near the center console in most cars to protect them from damage during a crash.

What I mean by deceleration is that: if you bring your car on a USS aircraft carrier, hook the rear of the car to the catapult cable system and pull it, the airbag will deploy b/c the sensors just sensed a deceleration > 7g.
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Post by Pmongii »

:D I will post the side pictures later today, car covered in snow.
Thank you you all for replying, I needed to share this.

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Post by RickHaleParker »

Pmongii, glad your injuries were of a severity where you could walk away. Sorry you lost a good car, lots of time probably, and pain.

Swedish safety regulations an Volvo's heritage of safety innovations is what makes a Volvo desirable for many. Good chance this is the reason he could walk away.
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Post by matthew1 »

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That's from Pmongii. So yes, it was VCNA.
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