Airbags

Location of Airbags

Airbags are located in the approximate areas shown below. Airbag warning information is printed on the sun visors.

Model 3 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.

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Note
On RHD (Right Hand Drive) vehicles, the locations of the passenger and driver airbags are reversed.
vehicle with callouts for each airbag
  1. Front airbags
  2. Seat-mounted side airbags
  3. 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.

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Warning
Before modifying your vehicle to accommodate a person with disabilities in a way that may affect the airbag system, contact Tesla.

Types of Airbags

Model 3 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). See Child Safety Seats.
  • Seat-mounted side airbags: A seat-mounted side airbag in the front seats helps protect the pelvis and the thorax region of the torso. The seat-mounted side airbags on both the impacted and non-impacted side of the vehicle will inflate in the event of severe side impact or 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 will inflate only if a severe side impact occurs, or if the vehicle rolls over.

Passenger Front Airbag

Model 3 has a passenger front airbag that is always ON. Children must ride in the rear seats only.

passenger airbag option icon
The Passenger Airbag On indicator displays in the top corner of the touchscreen to indicate that the passenger front airbag may inflate if a collision occurs.
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Warning
The front passenger seat has an airbag that is always ON. Never seat a child in the front passenger seat, even if using a child restraint system or booster seat. DEATH or SERIOUS INJURY can occur.

Inflation Effects

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Warning
When airbags inflate, a fine powder is released. This powder can irritate the skin and should be thoroughly flushed from the eyes and from any cuts or abrasions.

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, your vehicle requires servicing before it will power up. In addition, your airbags, seat belt pre-tensioners and any associated components must be checked, and if necessary, replaced. Contact Tesla Service immediately.

In a collision, in addition to the airbags inflating:

  • Doors unlock.
  • Hazard warning lights turn on.
  • Interior lights turn on.
  • High voltage is disabled.
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Note
In some collisions, even if airbags did not inflate, high voltage may be disabled and you will be unable to power up and drive. Contact Tesla Service immediately.

Airbag Warning Indicator

profile view of a person with an open airbag
The airbag indicator on the touchscreen remains lit if the airbag system is malfunctioning. The only time this indicator should light up is briefly when Model 3 first powers up, in which case it turns off within a few seconds. If it remains lit, contact Tesla immediately and do not drive.

Airbag Warnings

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Warning
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 collision.
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Warning
Front seat occupants should not place their arms over the airbag module, as an inflating airbag can cause fractures or other injuries.
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Do not use seat covers on Model 3. Doing so could restrict deployment of the seat-mounted side air bags if a collision occurs. It can also reduce the accuracy of the occupant detection system, if equipped.
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Warning
Airbags inflate with considerable speed and force, which can cause injury. To limit injuries, ensure that occupants are wearing seat belts and are correctly seated, with the seat positioned as far back as possible.
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Warning
Children should not be seated on the front passenger seat unless permitted by regulations in your market region. Follow all regulations in your region for the appropriate way to seat a child based on the child's weight, size, and age. The safest place to seat infants and young children is in a rear seating position. Seating an infant or child in a rear-facing child restraint system on a seat equipped with an operational airbag can cause serious injury or death.
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Warning
Do not use a rear-facing child safety seat on a seat with an operational airbag in front of it. Doing so can cause injury or death if the airbag inflates.
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Warning
To ensure correct inflation of the side airbags, maintain an unobstructed gap between an occupant’s torso and the side of Model 3.
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Passengers shouldn't lean their heads against doors. Doing so can cause injury if a curtain airbag inflates.
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Do not allow passengers to obstruct the operation of an airbag by placing feet, knees or any other part of the body on or near an airbag.
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Do not attach or place objects on or near the front airbags, the side of the front seats, the headliner at the side of the vehicle, or any other airbag cover that could interfere with inflation of an airbag. Objects can cause serious injury if the vehicle is in a collision severe enough to cause the airbag to inflate.
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Warning
Following inflation, some airbag components are hot. Do not touch until they have cooled.