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Weldbank airbagAirbag , SRS & Body Systems

The Air Bag or Safety restraint system is now common place in motor vehicles today although it is a safety related system it is not a requirement for the MOT test as anti lock brakes. The air bag system tests itself each time the ignition is turned on. If a fault is detected, the Air bag system will turn itself off and the warning light will illuminate. The driver is alerted to the problem and should therefore have the system checked.

Some cars have an airbag on the driver's side; others have both driver and passenger airbags. Some vehicles may also have seat and side curtain air bags. During a front collision of sufficient force, impact sensors close. This triggers an electrical signal that travels to the air bag control unit or module, upon receiving this signal; the control unit will send an impulse current across the pins of the igniter situated under the airbag, the extreme heat caused by the resistance within the igniter will ignite the airbag propellant. The propellant is Sodium Azide, the same fuel used to power rockets; Sodium Azide is a rapidly burning fuel that gives off extreme amounts of nitrogen gas. The rapid build-up of nitrogen fills the thin nylon bag extremely quickly. The rapid expansion of the air bag tears the steering wheel cover open at specific locations, reaching full deployment to deflating virtually in the blink of an eye.

During a severe frontal collision, the air bag deploys and absorbs the forward force of the driver's or passenger's upper body as it spreads out over the large surface area of the bag. Air bags and safety belts should be used together. Air bags don't replace belts. They only supplement them during severe front collisions.

Photo: Bosch

Seat belts now known as Pyrotechnic pretentioners also play a major role in the SRS system. In the event of accident will also be triggered by the control unit and instantly take out the slack in the belt and hold the occupant in the correct position, held back in the seat, so that the airbags rapid inflation causes minimum injury to the occupant.

The system has self diagnostics built in and therefore tests its entire system for malfunctions and can be tested using the correct equipment.

Photo: BoschBSI (Body System Integration)

Body system integration is a central hub for the chassis electrics, the main component in its functionality is the Body Control Module.

Body Control Modules

Body control modules (BCM's) are now fitted to most vehicles worldwide and is a new concept that has changed production techniques providing a new and exciting area for the whole automotive industry. Instead of having separate circuits for all a cars functions such as lights, wipers, electric windows, heated screen etc, all inputs flow into one box, and all operations of the car can be controlled via this box. Safety critical systems such as engine management and ABS and Air bag however will remain separate for the time being. While this will make fault diagnosis of all these usually separate systems a little easier by the fact that we can test the entire system by using just one diagnostic tool

CAN systems (controller Area Network)

Photo: Bosch

The Controller Area Network (CAN) is a serial bus communications protocol developed by Bosch in the early 1980s.

In simple terms it is a way of networking the control units around the vehicle, this is a very cost affective high speed and reliable method of sharing data between the control units. The wiring is usually made up of only two wires, they connect the control units together all around the vehicle carrying important data and exchanging it with others, because it has fewer wires makes it cheaper to produce, there are usually two CAN systems fitted to the vehicle one is for body control and the other is for powertrain (engine and transmission) this is for reliability. For instance if there was a failure in a body control CAN such as the drivers door control unit, the vehicle would still start.

Only by truly understanding how these systems work can we correctly diagnose and repair them using the skill of our technicians and up to the minute technical data available.

Whatever your problem is, maybe you have a warning light displayed on your dash board, or perhaps your lights, indicators or wipers have stopped working.

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