Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2022

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Key Takeaways

  • Air bags can deploy if you are going just 10-15 miles per hour and hit an object with enough force
  • Replacing an air bag can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000
  • Air bag replacement may be covered by insurance if you have a full coverage policy or if another driver hits you

If you’ve recently been in a car accident and your air bags deployed, you may be curious to know more about air bag replacement costs. The cost to have your air bags replaced depends on the type of car you drive and how many air bags you’re replacing.

When your air bags deploy, there’s always a chance your car insurance company will consider your vehicle a total loss. Even if it’s not declared a total loss, it may be a better idea to save the money you would spend replacing your air bags and invest that into a different vehicle.

What makes an air bag deploy?

In a car accident, your air bags protect you by slowing your forward motion as evenly as possible in just a fraction of a second. Most air bags deploy if your car travels anywhere from 10 to 15 miles per hour and hits something with enough force. Typically, the object you hit at that speed would have to be something like a brick wall to make your air bags deploy.

The faster you’re driving, the more force your car’s internal system will sense. When this happens, the mechanical switch that controls both front and side air bags will flip because there was a significant shift of mass to close the electrical contact. Once the switch flips, sensors controlling the air bags receive a signal from a microchip that signals them to deploy.

At this point, the air bags — made of a thin nylon fabric that is often folded into the steering wheel or dashboard — will deploy within a fraction of a second.

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What is involved in replacing air bags?

The system that air bags use to function is pretty complex, and several components are working together to ensure your air bags will deploy immediately. The features involved in air bag deployment include:

  • Air bags
  • Clockspring
  • Impact sensors
  • Igniter
  • Warning light
  • Pyrotechnic inflator
  • Seat belt pretensioners

Since all of these components cause the air bags to deploy, the total cost for replacing an air bag can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000. The cost will depend on the facets that need repair and the labor associated with the repairs.

How much does it cost to replace air bags?

Like with most car-related repairs, much of the cost of replacing an air bag depends on the vehicle’s year, make, and model. The estimated costs of the most common internet searches for replacing air bags in specific vehicles include:

  • Hyundai air bag replacement cost: $1,550
  • Ford air bag replacement cost: $1,200
  • Nissan air bag replacement cost: $1,614
  • Tesla air bag replacement cost: $2,100

The cost of replacing air bags will vary depending on where you go, the make and model of your car, and how many air bags you need to replace. Most mechanic shops may be willing to give you a slight discount on replacing your air bags if you’re getting them all done instead of just one.

For instance, if the air bag replacement cost for a Honda Civic is around $1,200, you may find that you will pay a total of $2,200 instead of $2,400 for replacing two.

Curtain air bag replacement costs vary from one car to the next, but they typically cost anywhere from $500 to $1,200.

Should I replace my air bags?

If you want to drive your car after its air bags have deployed, you will have to replace them. Otherwise, it would be best not to drive with deployed air bags.

You may be in a situation where your vehicle’s air bags deployed, but your car was not declared a total loss. If that’s the case, it’s worth assessing whether to replace the air bags in your vehicle or sell it and find another option.

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Will car insurance cover my air bag replacement?

In some cases, car insurance might cover your air bag replacement. For example, if you someone else hits your, that individual’s car insurance policy should cover the cost of repairs, provided your car is not declared a total loss.

The same is true if you are at fault in an accident or if you run into a structure and your air bags deploy. Your car insurance coverage — if you have a full coverage policy — should cover the cost of air bag replacement once you’ve met your deductible.

While your state only requires a specific liability limit to drive legally, this type of car insurance coverage will not help cover the cost of replacing the air bags in your vehicle. As a result, you may want to consider purchasing a full coverage policy.

The table below shows average car insurance rates in each U.S. state based on coverage type.

Average Monthly Car Insurance Rates by Coverage Type and State
StatesAverage Monthly Liability RatesAverage Monthly Collision RatesAverage Monthly Comprehensive RatesAverage Monthly Full Coverage Rates
District of Columbia$58$41$19$118
New Hampshire$35$26$9$70
New Jersey$76$33$11$119
New Mexico$44$24$15$84
New York$71$34$15$120
North Carolina$31$26$11$67
North Dakota$25$22$20$67
Rhode Island$68$36$11$116
South Carolina$50$24$16$89
South Dakota$26$19$24$69
West Virginia$43$28$18$88
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If you can afford the monthly rates for full coverage, this type of car insurance will offer you the most protection, whether you’re in a car accident or your vehicle is damaged, stolen, or vandalized. To ensure you don’t pay too much for car insurance, you should shop around online and compare quotes from multiple companies.