Do You Still Need Your Airbag Inspected if the Airbag Light Is off on a Used Car?

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Federal and most state laws require used car salespeople to inspect their cars before selling. That also extends to ensuring the airbags are in good working condition. With good reason: front airbags saved 50,457 lives between 1987 and 2017.

However, some unscrupulous used car dealers employ unqualified mechanics who mess up the airbag safety protocols. Some will skip the airbag inspection as a cost-cutting measure. So, if you buy a used car, should you take it through an airbag inspection even if the airbag warning light is off? Let’s find out.

Airbag safety on used cars

Under the law, used car dealers must subject all vehicles to a mandatory inspection by a certified mechanic registered with the DMV. The examination aims to unearth any issues with the car, such as unsafe airbags.

Some states, such as New York, require used car dealers to provide certification confirming that their cars or trucks have airbags and show a readiness indicator light proving they are functional.

One of the ways to confirm that the vehicle underwent a reputable inspection is to check it out on the CARFAX website. If it has an accident-free history, there’s a good chance the airbags are in working condition. Research has found that modern airbags will last the lifetime of the vehicle.

If the used vehicle has airbag labels and I later find out it has none, can I get my money back?

That will depend. If you bought it from a used car salesperson and the vehicle model has airbags as part of its original equipment, you can demand your money back. It is illegal to sell used cars without conducting airbag inspections to ensure they work.

In some states, used car dealers should provide documentation showing the airbags are working. The only exception is if you sell the vehicle to an auto salvage, to a private party for parts only, or when making a charitable donation.

However, if you make a private party purchase on an “as is” basis, although the airbag lights were off, you will have little chance of recovering your money. If you are not a mechanic when purchasing from an individual, seek the services of a qualified mechanic to inspect the airbags.

Do you need to conduct an airbag inspection on a used car?

Do you still need to inspect the airbags if the airbag light is off on a used car? If the vehicle has a clean history on CARFAX and has certification showing it passed an airbag inspection, there’s no need to conduct one.

You could also check the NHTSA recall database to determine if the vehicle is part of an airbag recall. They will also direct you to places where you can have airbag examinations, such as Roggi’s Auto in Hartford, CT. If there are no recalls and the car or truck ticks all the other boxes, there’s no need to inspect.

If it does not show up on research websites, or the dash and airbag covers show signs of tampering, or you just don’t trust the salesman, you could always conduct an independent inspection. These inspections cost next to nothing and will provide the necessary peace of mind before making the costly purchase.

If you made a purchase from a private individual on an as-is basis, then you definitely must have the airbag inspected.

Come to Roggi’s in Hartford, CT, for airbag inspections

If you are in the Hartford area of CT, send your used car to Roggi’s Auto service for quick airbag diagnostics. We have expert mechanics with the know-how to conduct diagnostics, maintenance, and repairs on SRS airbags.

Visit Roggi’s in Hartford, CT, today for quality diagnostics and original auto parts for your airbags. 


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