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  #1  
Old 03-13-2003, 03:23 AM
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Airbags

i like my old benzes. i have two that i bought some years ago new. a 1986 560sel and a 560sec.

there is a label within the glovebox that recommends replacing the airbags in 1996.

how often does that get done? should it be done?

i still drive these cars. and drive them hard. the sel has 250,000 miles. the sec has 75,000.

with both cars, the airbag cover on the steering wheel has cracked out along the right side. good or bad?

i am all ears.

thank you.
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  #2  
Old 03-13-2003, 10:50 AM
JCE's Avatar
JCE JCE is offline
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Join Date: May 1999
Location: So Kalifornia
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MB exteded the airbag life to 15 years. There are several threads in the archives on this, including:

What exactly expires w/an airbag?

Air bag replacement???

190E Air Bag Replacement

I plan on replacing the seatbelts rather than the air bag. The belts have a daily use and exposure of the nylon to UV, dust, and air pollution, and are the primary safety system (after driving skills, tires, brakes, and suspension, that is).

Maybe Phil at Fastlane can tell you the price of a new cover for the bags.
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2003 Firemist Red/grey leather SL 500
2015 Palladium Silver/black mbtex GLK 350
1987 Smoke Silver/burgundy mbtex 300E Sportline (SOLD)

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  #3  
Old 03-13-2003, 12:33 PM
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The cover is an integral part of the assembly. Cannot be replaced alone.
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'73 280SEL 4.5 (9/72)- RIP
Only 8,173 units built from 5/71 thru 11/72

'02 CLK320 Cabriolet - wifey's mid-life crisis

2012 VW Jetta Sportwagon TDI...at least its a diesel

Non illegitemae carborundum.
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  #4  
Old 03-18-2003, 09:34 PM
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firstly, i did not know that benz had extended the replacement interval 50%, but i am no better off as both of these benzes are older than that.

actually, going back through my records, i find that benz replaced these bags within the first twenty-four months because the steering wheel cover cracked out along the right side. both cracked in the same place in the same fashion.

the replacements cracked out just as rapidly but benz declined to replace them a second time.

i have always assumed that benz had a materials problem.

but, my concern is the sodium azide. i understand that it is a pretty toxic material and i wonder if it may have been responsible for attacking the plastic cover. after all, if my memory serves me correctly, these were the first vehicles sold with sodium azide[air, hahhahhah] bags in the usa.

and now i wonder if sodium azide is able to exfiltrate through that crack.

anyone know?

thnx


albert
1979 6.9
1995 e320cab
in addition to the w126's[coupe and sedan]
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  #5  
Old 03-18-2003, 10:54 PM
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The sodium azide is a solid pellet system (and shouldn't exfiltrate from the bag), which under ignition reacts with solid potasium nitrate to produce the nitrogen gas that inflates the bag: It is destroyed in the ignition process

http://auto.howstuffworks.com/airbag.htm

The reaction is "a three step process which proceeds as follows:

This initial reaction forms sodium and hot nitrogen gas which inflates the airbag.

2 NaN3 > 2 Na + 3 N2

The sodium byproduct of the first reaction and the potassium nitrate generate additional nitrogen in the secondary reaction.

10 Na + 2 KNO3 > K2O + 5 Na2O + N2

And finally the previous two reactions leave potassium oxide and sodium oxide to react with the third component of the mixture, silicon dioxide, forming alkaline silicate "glass".

K2O + Na2O + SiO2 > alkaline silicate"

http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/aug99/934263277.Ch.r.html

I would still assume the plastic cover has a materials problem, as the physical structure of the bag doesn't support a release of sodium azide, which tends to be reactive more with metals rather than plastics (we used plastic or glass beakers and plastic spatulas when we worked with it in the labs).

Apparently the 15 year life is more related to break down of the semi-porous bag material, and the igniter is somewhat more reliable, (but still limited to 15 years). This implies that bag ignition on an older bag may work properly, may only partially inflate a degrading bag, or may not inflate a torn bag at all.

BTW, I went ahead and replaced the 16+ year old seatbelt in my car, as I suspected ozone, UV, and dust abbrasion damage to the belt, as well as fatigue to the reel and lock up mechanism. I also knew that the fatiqued spring had allowed the belt to be slammed in the door at least 4-5 times as well. But I had overlooked that the tensioner is also an explosive device, possibly with a finite shelf life!? The tensioner, reel, belt, etc. are sold as one unit. It looks rather like a tapered barrel single shot pistol with a small handle (explosive charge capsule) and a fishing reel tacked on the side. The tech secured the old device in a vise and applied a voltage to the tensioner from a remote location (full range safety rules ). The propellent was still good, as it sounded like a 410 shotgun going off! This made the belt system safe for disposal.

The new belt reels in much more easily, looks and feels clean and is more supple than the old belt, and was a 20-30 minute installation. About $250 parts and labor covered everything. So apparently, for both the belts and bags, the fabric is more of a weak link than the explosive charge, from what I have read and observed in this (admittedly) small experiment.
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2003 Firemist Red/grey leather SL 500
2015 Palladium Silver/black mbtex GLK 350
1987 Smoke Silver/burgundy mbtex 300E Sportline (SOLD)

Click to see 87 300E

Last edited by JCE; 03-19-2003 at 12:35 AM.
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