Mar 17

Airbag Inflation Cylinders Are Everywhere!

Airbag Inflation Cylinders Are Everywhere!


By now, most of us understand that cutting an airbag inflation cylinder is a bad idea.



In this training, we will cover the different locations where we may encounter inflation cylinders.  There may be a few that surprise you. But first, a few facts about Airbag Inflation Cylinders:

– Until deployed, inflation cylinders are full of high pressure inert gas. The pressure within is between one thousand and ten thousand PSI

– These cylinders can not be deactivated. Until deployed, they are always a hazard if cut or crushed.

– Rescuers should not determine any high pressure component deployed by visual inspection. In some cases, one airbag is fed by two cylinders at opposite sides of the bag.  Therefore, it is not safe to cut or crush a cylinder just because the attached bag is deployed. A properly operating system should deploy both cylinders, but after a collision, there is no guarantee that the system is working properly.

– It is appropriate to cut through the actual bag component of an airbag.  However, an airbag must be palpated before cutting to assure that there is not a hidden cylinder in the bag. Some manufacturers are placing the inflation cylinder within the bag.

– It is appropriate (if  needed) to cut the tubing that sometimes attaches the high pressure cylinder to the actual bag.  This cut should be made as far from the cylinder as possible.

– Airbag inflation cylinders can be used to inflate all vehicle airbags, with the exception of the driver’s steering wheel bag.  Many times, like in passenger frontal and knee bags, the cylinder is contained in a special housing within the airbag.

– Airbag inflation cylinders can and will explode under extreme heat.  Modern vehicle fires should be handled with sufficient knockdown before approaching the vehicle.

– Rescuers not equipped with a schematic (such as Crash Recovery System) on the subject vehicle must pull interior and check the area for hazards everywhere they are planning on cutting or crushing

Let’s look at some of the places that manufacturers locate high pressure inflation cylinders

The following pictures are screenshots from Moditech’s Crash Recovery System Application for mobile devices.

You can get more info by clicking here!

This Nissan 350 has inflation cylinders in the roof, right where we would run our saw in a total sunroof evolution.


This Toyota Land Cruiser has two cylinders in the roof. Just because you find one does not mean you’re done looking!

In this BMW, the cylinder is right above the B Pillar.  We could hit this one doing a pie cut.

In this Mazda RX-8, there is a cylinder located in the C pillar. We could encounter this one with roof removal or possibly a third door.

This Mercedes has the cylinder in the door. Look for this on convertibles when you can’t locate any cylinders in the roof, but still need the side impact protection. We could crush this one when using the spreaders on the hinge side of the door, or doing a vertical crush to get a purchase point.

Here we find them in the roof rail and D pillar.

This Mercedes has one in the A pillar.  We could find this one during roof removal, or with an advanced dash displacement evolution, when using the A pillar as a push point is needed.

Notice the cylinders in both doors.

Here we have one airbag serving the driver’s side and two on the passenger side.  Also look at the location of the cylinders.  They are different on each side.  Just because we find a cylinder in one location on one side of the vehicle, does not mean the other side is identical.  We typically see this setup on vehicles with different door patterns.

This is a typical location for the cylinder in a BMW.  To find this cylinder, you have to break away the dash area to see it.  we could encounter this cylinder with a dash lift, dash roll, or even when using the spreaders to remove the door hinges.  Just another reason to cut the front door hinges, rather than spread them off.

Here is a Honda CR V.  Notice the inflation cylinders in the rear windshield header.  We could encounter these while performing a total sunroof or spreading the hatchback door.  Remember to pull the interior and check for hazards when crushing any area.

This is one of my favorites.  Check out the location of the cylinder behind the door.  Would you expect this location?  We could easily hit this one doing a third door evolution.

Below are some pictures of inflation cylinders for those of you who haven’t seen them. Also, don’t hesitate to save images from my site to use in your trainings!