Home » Would You Ride In A Car With No Airbags?

Would You Ride In A Car With No Airbags?

Aa Airbags

Today, every car on the market comes with airbags. They’re a mandatory requirement for new automobiles in the US market and have been since September 1st, 1998. But they’re not mandatory for you!

That is, you don’t need to have airbags in your own car. It’s perfectly legal to drive around in a car without them. This is obvious, given that many vehicles built prior to 1998 are still on the roads.

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My question for you is this—are airbags something you consider mandatory, like seatbelts or breathable oxygen? Or are you happy to go without them?

Renault Airbags
Modern vehicles are full of airbags. Side curtain airbags and seat airbags are now common, it’s not just driver and passenger airbags coming out of the dash anymore. Image: Renault

I know a great many people that are perfectly happy to ride around in old cars without airbags. Indeed, most of the vehicles I’ve owned never had them. It wasn’t until 2012, when I bought a 1999 Ford Falcon, that I regularly drove around in a vehicle with airbags.

However, this question isn’t as simple as it might immediately appear. Most of us wouldn’t hesitate to ride in a friend’s classic car that never had airbags in its life. But what about a modern car with no airbags fitted? Or airbags that were non-operational?


I feel confident in saying that most of us dig older cars. We wouldn’t freak out if our pals pulled up in a 1972 Chevy Malibu or a 1989 Oldsmobile Toronado. We’d think that was damn cool. We wouldn’t freak out that it was too dangerous because it lacked airbags.

An old car with no airbags is one thing. But would you ride in a modern car with the airbags removed?

In contrast, if you got in an Uber with the airbag light glowing in the dash, would you do a second take? Would you get out and wait for another, or would you pay it no mind?

I think for a lot of people, the idea of a malfunctioning or non-operable airbag is scarier than a car that had none at all. Back in the day, airbags had a bad rap for taking more lives than they saved. That’s absolutely no longer the case, but it’s easy to get wary around these quite literally explosive safety devices. Recent debacles like the Takata scandal have done nothing to ease community concerns.

So I ask in the fullness of the question—would you drive a car with no airbags, modern or classic? Or do you demand that the safety equipment is fully operational before you head out on the road?

Top image: Alfa Romeo
Story images: Renault, Lewin Day



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19 days ago

No airbag, no problem.
My first car was a 1979 Renault R5 1300 Automatic. no airbag and electronic. I crashed it 9 month later and I regretted it.
then I had a 2002 Seat Ibiza. modified (chassis upgrade, engine upgrade, etc…) Interiot has 2 Sparco bucket seat, and the stock steering was an OMP. meabing, no more steering airbag and side airbag (disable in VCDS to avoid airbag light on the dash and pass safety inspection in France).
big huge difference in steering and road feeling without the airbag. more seedback sensation in the steering and more precise.

also got for a bit a 1983 Renault R5 GTL, 5 speed. no airbag stock, no electronics.

so I have driven car that were cars with no electronics crutches, and assistance of anykind and survive.
so I would drive one anytime again

20 days ago

Of course.. 1950’s all over again.

Ben Nuttall
Ben Nuttall
20 days ago

My first car was sans airbag and I didn’t have a problem with it. I also frequently drove in cars with broken airbags, blown airbags, seatbelts with blown pretensioner and loads of other extremely dangerous faults that absolutely would not stand up in a crash.

Then in my early 20s I had two serious crashes where I would certainly have died if the airbags didn’t go off. The first was without a seatbelt at about 70mph, the second was at 100mph head on.

I just recently got given a fiat punto with blown bags and seatbelts, but nailed together to hide the fact. The first thing I did was go out and buy a full airbag and seatbelt kit. I can’t imagine why anyone would take the risk in a daily driver.

However, my dad has a mk2 ford escort rs2000 with no bags, no rear seatbelts. I have no issue with riding pillion on a summer drive. Once in a blue moon is OK I guess, but daily drivers really should be much safer than your average 70s death machine.

Jeff Marquardt
Jeff Marquardt
21 days ago

My summer car’s airbag system crashed a few years ago and it doesn’t bother me to ride in it at all, I still take it to track days, autocross and cross country road trips with no second thoughts.

The first car I bought was the first car in my family to have airbags and that was in 2007.

My dad was the type that never buckled his seatbelt, but mostly because it made him feel constricted and uncomfortable and not the whole “safer to by flying out of a wreck” type, but I probably get a lot of the lack for personal safely from him.

I ride my bike to work most days and have never once wear a bicycle helmet, I used to skateboard nearly every day when I was young and never wore pads unless I was on a halfpipe.

However, no matter what, I will always wear a full face helmet when driving a motorcycle. Additionally proper shoes, long pants and a riding jacket, and if I have a passenger they must do the same. That is where I draw my line.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
21 days ago

Of course I would ride in a car without airbags. Hell, I’ve owned and driven cars without airbags. Not only that, I’ve ridden in cars that didn’t even have proper headrests… vehicles that would give you a major case of whiplash if you got rear ended.

Now having said that, I probably wouldn’t want to daily drive a vehicle that didn’t have these now-basic safety features.

21 days ago

I don’t think much about airbags even though I’m 100% certain I would have been at least seriously injured without them in an accident I had a few years ago. I wouldn’t ride in a car that didn’t have headrests and seat belts unless it was an emergency, but I have owned a pre-airbag car as recently as 2 years ago.

21 days ago

Well, seeing as how 9 of my cars were from 1989 and prior…I never cared. The other 2 (Wow, I guess I lost track of all my shitboxes since I’ve mentioned I’ve had 8 or 9 on here before…well, it’s nothing compared to my brother who’s had 30+ cars)
…were a 2002 Nissan Sentra (which I only got since it was a deal through someone I knew) which had the airbag recall- I had no problems w/ that besides other problems w/ the car (fuel pump/window switch) I was glad to get rid of that car through a salvage service who paid ok and towed away it away too. So that one I’m glad the airbag didn’t explode since it was known to happen. So basically I could care less, it’s really just an added bonus if it comes w/ the car (like my current car which is the other newer one) and doesn’t actually have a recall like all the Takata’s. If it didn’t have any, I just don’t think I’d care since I’ve mostly been used to not having them and like I said all the recalls don’t help. I always wear my seatbelt and it’s more about defensive driving. Yes, of course if I could have a car that has known good airbags and is safe w/o all the nannies it would ok but nothing is guaranteed. Really, if I could eventually make a car w/ a roll cage and is armored to help safeguard more against idiots on their phone/million screens in a huge vehicle or overweight behemoth junk EV; or dummies that are drunk/high along w/ all the other morons who have ruined everything for everyone…that would be great too…but that’s dreaming

21 days ago

It wouldn’t bother me unless they were obviously a reckless driver. Belts are a must, though. It’s part of being in a vehicle for me; old cars without them give me anxiety.

My kid was saying something recently about people not wearing seatbelts. Is that still a thing? I thought that was an older generation issue from when they were optional. Maybe the youths think getting blasted in the face with an airbag is “lit”?

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