Do All Cars Have Airbags? (+ Other Common FAQs)

It’s a well-known fact that airbags in cars save lives, which is why many are surprised to learn that some vehicles don’t contain airbags, such as vintage and used cars.

While newer cars are going to have airbag systems, many vehicles still don’t have them installed. So, you may wonder then- are vehicles required to have airbags? If you’d like to find out, keep reading!

Do All Cars Have Airbags?

The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 mandated that all cars and light-duty trucks sold in the U.S. must be outfitted with at least a front seat airbag system by Sept. 1, 1998. But with the beginning date of the law and the slim vehicle specification – that leaves a lot of vehicles on the road that don’t have airbags.

All cars, trucks, SUVs, and many other vehicles on the road still don’t have airbags. If you’d like to find out the answer, as well as other related facts, keep reading!

What Year Did Airbags Become Mandatory?

1998 was the first year that all car manufacturers were forced by law to make sure that all cars and light-duty trucks came with airbags.

For most manufacturers, this was not a big deal as a lot of them already had them implicated on most of their vehicles.

Why Don’t Medium-Duty and Heavy-Duty Vehicles Need Airbags?

Why Don’t Medium-Duty and Heavy-Duty Vehicles Need Airbags?

All vehicles that are over the weight of 3500 kilograms or 7,716.2 pounds are not required by law to have any type of airbag system.

One of these reasons is that not many vehicles on the road will stop something that heavy with as much force as a smaller vehicle would be stopped.

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This, in turn, would not cause someone’s head, neck, and back to move forward with such force that it would cause whiplash or force someone’s head into something in front of them with enough power to cause serious personal injury.

Do Some Cars Not Have Airbags?

Some cars dating all the way back to 1973 were outfitted with airbags, but many manufacturers did not believe in the science yet, and for many years did not approve of putting airbags in their vehicles.

Plus, the expense of airbags was big for manufacturers, so with no mandate by law and no real proof in numbers at the time that they did more good than harm, manufacturers did not implement them on their cars.

Can You Insure a Car Without an Airbag?

Insurance companies know what cars come with airbags and which ones do not. Insurance companies will insure your car without airbags, but you might receive an insurance discount for having a vehicle with airbags.

The more airbags your car has, and the more sophisticated the safety system is in your car, the more you will probably be discounted.

Can You Install Airbags into an Old Car?

Installing airbags into an old car is both impractical and dangerous. Cars with airbags were designed with them, so if your vehicle wasn’t designed for airbags, there is no way any sensor system or other part of the airbag system would work properly.

Is it Illegal Not to Have an Airbag in Your Steering Wheel?

Is it Illegal Not to Have an Airbag in Your Steering Wheel?

It’s illegal for manufacturers to not have airbags installed in vehicles from the factory. However, you can own a vehicle without an airbag system, as driving a vehicle without safety airbags is not against the law.

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Do You Have to Replace Your Airbags?

If your airbag has deployed and you don’t want to pay to have another one reinstalled, that is a personal choice and is not against the law.

Which Car Companies Introduced Airbags in Their Cars for the First Time?

In 1973, Oldsmobile introduced the Olds Toronado with its first passenger-side airbag, which was the first airbag to ever hit the market. Airbags were introduced long before, but they were never marketed.

Which Car Came Out With the First Standard Set of Airbags?

It wasn’t till 1987 when Porsche came out with their 944 Turbo that offered driver and passenger side airbags as a standard. This was a first for the automotive world and would become a standard about ten years later.

Can You Drive a Car From Overseas in The U.S. Without Airbags?

If you purchased a vehicle from overseas and it had no airbags installed, you can still drive it in the United States.

Why do Cars from Certain Eras Have Airbags and Some Don’t?

Before it was a law to put airbags in every vehicle built in America, some automakers were going the extra mile to have them installed as a safety feature and as a selling point.

However, some manufacturers didn’t see the point and didn’t want to spend the money to have airbags installed, and even believed it might deter vehicle purchases.

Is it Safer Not to Have an Airbag Installed?

Is it Safer Not to Have an Airbag Installed?

There is some proof that, on rare occasions, airbags can do more harm than good.

However, the numbers in this situation prove that airbags have saved way more people from serious injury and/or death than the very, very tiny amount of negative effects it has had on vehicle occupants.

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Can You Sell Your Car Without Airbags?

It’s always good to be honest to let a potential buyer know that the vehicle you’re selling has no airbags, even if it says that it does.

However, there is no law against selling a vehicle without an airbag system, even if it originally came with one. You could also be looking at a possible lawsuit for not disclosing information that you knew to be true.

To find out more, you can also see our posts on the pros & cons of airbags, how to disable airbags, and what are advanced airbags.


When it comes to all cars on the road, they do not all have airbag systems. Some cars are too old and never had them installed, some vehicles exceed the weight limit and aren’t required to have airbags, and other vehicles don’t have airbags because they were taken out or deployed and never put back in.

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