Location of Airbags
Airbags are located in the approximate areas shown below. Airbag warning information is printed on the sun visors.
Model S is equipped with an airbag and lap/shoulder belt at both front seating positions. The airbag is a supplemental restraint at those seating positions. All occupants, including the driver, should always wear their seat belts whether or not an airbag is also provided at their seating position to minimize the risk of severe injury or death in the event of a crash.
- Passenger front airbag
- Driver front airbag
- Seat-mounted side airbags
- Curtain airbags
How Airbags Work
Airbags inflate when sensors detect an impact that exceeds deployment thresholds. These thresholds are designed to predict the severity of a crash in time for the airbags to help protect the vehicle's occupants. Airbags inflate instantly with considerable force accompanied by a loud noise. The inflated bag, together with the seat belts, limits movement of occupants to reduce the risk of injury.
Front airbags are not ordinarily designed to inflate in rear collisions, rollovers, side collisions and when braking heavily or driving over bumps and potholes. Likewise, front airbags may not inflate in all frontal collisions, such as minor front collisions, underride collisions, or minor impacts with narrow objects (such as posts or poles). Significant superficial damage can occur to the vehicle without the airbags inflating and, conversely, a relatively small amount of structural damage can cause airbags to inflate. Therefore, the external appearance of the vehicle after a collision does not represent whether or not the front airbags should have inflated.
Types of Airbags
Model S has the following types of airbags:
- Front airbags: The front airbags are designed to reduce injuries if larger children or adults are riding in the front seats. Follow all warnings and instructions related to seating a child on the front passenger seat (if permitted in your market region).
- Seat-mounted airbags: A seat-mounted side airbag in the front seats helps protect the pelvis and the thorax region of the torso. The seat-mounted airbag on the inside portion of the driver's seat helps protect the head and torso. Seat-mounted airbags on both the impacted and non-impacted side of the vehicle inflate in the event of a severe side impact or a severe offset frontal impact.
- Curtain airbags: Curtain airbags help protect the head. Curtain airbags on both the impacted and non-impacted side of the vehicle inflate only if a severe side impact occurs, or if the vehicle rolls over.
Airbag Status Indicator
The status of the passenger front airbag displays on the touchscreen:
The airbag indicator on the instrument cluster remains lit if the airbag system is malfunctioning. The only time this indicator should illuminate is briefly when Model S first powers up, in which case it turns off within a few seconds. If it remains illuminated, use the mobile app to schedule a service appointment immediately and do not drive.
Controlling the Passenger Front Airbag
When a child is seated in the front passenger seat (even when the child is seated in a child restraint system or booster seat), you must disable the passenger front airbag to prevent it from injuring the child if a collision occurs. Toggle the front passenger airbag OFF before placing a child seat in the front passenger seat by touching.
Ensuring Accurate Occupant Detection
To help ensure an occupant in the front passenger seat can be accurately detected, the passenger must:
- Wear a seat belt.
- Sit upright on the center of the seat cushion, with shoulders resting against the seat back and legs extended comfortably in front with feet on the floor. See Examples of Correct and Incorrect Seating Positions.
- Remain positioned on the seat cushion and not lift their weight off the seat (for example, by pushing their feet against the floor or pressing on the center console or armrest to lift up).
- Never wear thick, wet, or bulky clothing (such as ski wear or padded clothing).
In addition to the items listed above, the following situations can interfere with the accuracy of the occupant classification system:
- Placing a radio transmitter (for example, a hunting radio or walkie-talkie) on the front passenger seat.
- Placing an AC/DC inverter, or a device that is being powered by the inverter (for example, a cell phone, tablet, or computer) on the front passenger seat cushion.
- Placing liquid (such as a bottled drink) or food containers on a car seat when a child seat is present.
- Objects lodged under the seat or wedged between the seat back and cushion.
- Heavy objects sitting on the seat (briefcase, large purse).
- Cargo interfering with the seat.
- Aftermarket items attached to or placed between the seat and the occupant, such as covers, mats, blankets, etc.
These conditions can interfere with the occupancy sensor. If you have eliminated the above possibilities, and the airbag status is still incorrect, instruct passengers to ride in the rear seats and use the mobile app to schedule a service appointment to have the airbag system checked.
Examples of Correct and Incorrect Seating Positions
Correct seating position:
Incorrect seating position - the passenger's feet must be on the floor:
Incorrect seating position - the passenger must not slide forward on the seat cushion:
Incorrect seating position - the passenger must not recline the backrest to a laying down position when the vehicle is moving:
After inflation, the airbags deflate to provide a gradual cushioning effect for the occupants and to ensure the driver’s forward vision is not obscured.
If airbags have inflated, or if your vehicle has been in a collision, always have the airbags, seat belt pre-tensioners and any associated components checked and, if necessary, replaced by Tesla.
In a collision, in addition to the airbags inflating:
- Doors unlock, and the door handles extend.
- Hazard warning lights turn on.
- Interior lights turn on.
- High voltage is disabled (you must use the mobile app to schedule a service appointment to restore high voltage power).
- Windows go to the vent position.
- Vehicle applies the brakes to come to a stop.