All deflated over failure of airbags
I bought a BMW 328i Convertible last year and was involved in a serious accident in it. I always thought I was safe in the BMW with all its airbags, but unfortunately not one airbag deployed during the accident.
I notified BMW South Africa, who said it would be investigated. I'd like to ask what might have caused the airbags not to inflate. I love BMW and would like to buy another, but this incident worries me. - Thokozane
Thokozane, there are several possible reasons for the non-deployment of the airbags:
The accident might have been of such a nature that the car's control system considered it inadvisable or ineffectual to inflate the airbags.
The BMW 328i Convertible was sold in this country from 1995 to August 2000, and most of them had just two (front) airbags, intended to provide protection mainly to frontal impacts of sufficient severity.
They would normally not be deployed in cases of side impacts or rollovers.
Likewise, if the sensors didn't register a sufficiently severe impact, the control system would not send the signal to inflate the airbags. There have also been systems which prevented deployment at a seat where the seat belt wasn't fastened. All of these precautions were taken to prevent unwanted or uncalled-for inflation of airbags. An airbag which deploys when you strike a pothole, for instance, can have even more disastrous consequences than one which fails to deploy when you hit a guardrail.
The car, which must have been at least 11 years old when you bought it, might have been in a prior accident or the victim of ham-fisted electrical repairs or aftermarket fitment of accessories, all of which could have damaged the sensors, their wiring, or airbag mechanisms.
The control system might never have received the signals which would have prompted it to trigger the airbags, or if it did, its instruction to inflate might have been ignored.
The last possibility is that there was a design or manufacturing defect in the 328.
This is so unlikely we can safely dismiss it.
You will find that in airbag technology, as in many other fields of automotive engineering, BMW is up there with the best. You don't need to worry on this score.
Car safety systems in general, and airbag technology in particular, have made majoradvances in recent years.
There's no doubt that in the event of an accident, the occupants in today's mid-range cars have a far better chance to emerge unscathed than was the case 15 years ago. This knowledge might make drivers more inclined to take chances.
A driver of an older car may be more aware that avoiding an accident is far better than surviving one.