Q:

How do airbag sensors work?

A:

Quick Answer

Airbag sensors are actually small electronic pieces that sense when an accident has taken place. They are designed to respond to circumstances such as increased pressure resulting from a collision and sudden stopping.

Continue Reading
How do airbag sensors work?
Credit: Patti McConville Photographer's Choice Getty Images

Full Answer

Airbag sensors can be used to detect how many people are in the vehicle and measure wheel speed, impact and brake pressure. The airbag control unit is usually built into the front section of the cabin. The unit is programmed to study the information that it receives in order to activate seat belt locks, airbag deployment, automatic door locks and other safety measures.

The two different types of airbag sensors are mechanical and electrical. Some electrical sensors use electromechanical "bauble and ball" mechanisms designed to release a ball from a magnet, which rolls into a tube before hitting a switch and completing an electrical connection. Mechanical sensors are designed to work independently from their electrical counterparts, and they utilize a firing pin to activate a compact explosion after an accident occurs.

One difference between the two different types of systems is that mechanical sensors can't be shut off after the battery has been disconnected the same way that electrical ones can, since mechanical sensors don't require a power source.

Learn more about Car Parts & Maintenance
Sources:

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What does your car's seat occupancy sensor system do?

    A:

    A vehicle’s passenger occupancy sensor detects whether a passenger is in the seat and decides whether or not to allow the airbag to deploy in the event of an accident. If the sensor determines a weight on the seat is not a person, the airbag does not deploy.

    Full Answer >
  • Q:

    How do airbags work?

    A:

    Airbags, a standard technology in cars, exist as small pieces of material that inflate instantaneously upon sensing an accident or impact; they operate in conjunction with special sensors that signal their inflation to protect occupants. Airbags appear in many locations throughout cars; they are standard on the front seats, and newer cars have them on the back side doors too. Although small, airbags are critical safety features in accidents as they may keep passengers protected from hitting glass, the steering wheel, dashboard and other objects during crashes.

    Full Answer >
  • Q:

    How do automatic headlights work?

    A:

    Basic automatic headlights work through sensors that detect how much light is outside the vehicle. Most times, these sensors are located on the dash of the vehicle. The headlights turn on when the sensors detect a certain level of darkness.

    Full Answer >
  • Q:

    How does a coolant-level sensor work?

    A:

    While manufacturers use different types of coolant-level sensors, the simplest is a float that activates a switch. If the coolant drops below the designated level, the switch opens, sending a signal to the indicator light. Manufacturers install these switches either in the coolant recovery tank or in the radiator. Regardless of the type of sensor, it should cause the light to illuminate if the level drops.

    Full Answer >

Explore