Jamie Thingelstad's personal website

Airbags Kaput, What Would You Do?

A couple of weeks ago my aging 1999 Audi A6 Avant decided to start flickering a little red light at me. Kind of like the car was winking at me. A couple of days later, it decided to just blast the light at me. You can see it in the image here, it’s the “Air Bag” light. Sadly, that doesn’t mean your air bags are great. It means they are totally broken, kaput.

Airbag Light

I took it into the shop for other work and got an estimate to fix this air bag situation. Turns out the controller card fails a checksum validation. I had the exact same thing happen with my ABS controller card too and had to replace that. The air bag controller card weighed in at $1,200 to replace. Ouch!

On one hand, this is safety and you shouldn’t cut corners. $1,200 is a small price to pay if the air bags keep you safe. On the other hand, $1,200 is a boat load of money to pour into an older car and I wear my seat belts all the time.

What would you do?


  1. Roll the dice, blow off getting the airbags fixed. When I was younger people didn’t wear seatbelts and nobody gave it a second thought. Did a lot of people die needlessly? Sure, but its not like there is any shortage of people in the world.

  2. If you don’t replace it, the Peltzman Effect says you will lower your chances of hitting a pedestrian… something to keep in mind ;)

  3. @Chris,

    I got scared just looking at the pictures of replacing that module!

  4. I’m with Murphy on this one. No shortage of people in the world!

  5. Well… I guess it depends on how much you love your family. If by chance you crash your car, would you rather feel like crap because you died and left Tammy and Mazie without a husband and father OR live with the guilt that either of them was needlessly injured because you wanted to save some $$$?

    I’d view this as an opprotunity to eval if you’d rather be nickeled and dimed by a 9 year old car or better off with a new vehicle that has all the latest safety features.

  6. Yes! New car! Mazie demands it!

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