Airbags

Location of Airbags

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

Model Y 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.

vehicle with callouts for each airbag
  1. Knee airbag
  2. Front airbags
  3. Seat-mounted side airbags
  4. 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.

Warning IconA warning icon, calling your attention to a possibly risky situation
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 Y 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).
  • Knee airbags: Knee airbags and the front airbags work together. The knee airbags limit the forward motion of the front seat occupants by restricting leg movement, thereby positioning the occupants so that the front airbags work more effectively.
  • 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 Status

The status of the passenger front airbag displays in the top corner of the touchscreen:

passenger airbag option icon
Before driving with a child seat on the front passenger seat (if legally permitted in your market region), always double-check the status of the passenger front airbag to confirm that it is OFF. When the passenger front airbag is OFF, it will not inflate when a collision occurs. This indicator also displays when the seat is unoccupied.
passenger airbag option icon

Before driving with a child seat on the front passenger seat (if legally permitted in your market region), always double-check the status of the passenger front airbag to confirm that it is OFF. When the passenger front airbag is OFF, it will not inflate when a collision occurs. This indicator also displays when the seat is unoccupied.

To protect an adult occupying the front passenger seat, ensure the passenger front airbag is ON. When the passenger front airbag is ON, it may inflate when a collision occurs.

Controlling the Passenger Front Airbag

Model Y has an occupancy sensor in the front passenger seat that controls the status of the front airbag.

Informational PurposesAn informational icon, calling your attention
Note
The occupancy classification system (OCS) meets the regulatory requirement of FMVSS 208 and automatically detects when inflating the passenger front airbag would be unnecessary or potentially harmful.
Warning IconA warning icon, calling your attention to a possibly risky situation
Warning
Seating an infant in a rear facing child safety seat on a seat equipped with an operational airbag can cause serious injury or death.
Object Classification OCS Passenger Airbag Status* Indicator status Notes
Empty OFF PASSENGER AIRBAG OFF
Object OFF or ON PASSENGER AIRBAG OFF or PASSENGER AIRBAG ON Depends on material/contents.
Rear facing child seat designed for children up to a year old OFF PASSENGER AIRBAG OFF 20 lbs (9 kg) or less
Forward facing child seat OFF PASSENGER AIRBAG OFF 35 lbs (16 kg) or less
Child in a booster seat OFF or ON PASSENGER AIRBAG OFF or PASSENGER AIRBAG ON 20-100 lbs (9-45 kg)*
Large child OFF or ON PASSENGER AIRBAG OFF or PASSENGER AIRBAG ON
5th percentile female or larger (by weight) ON PASSENGER AIRBAG ON Over approximately 100 lbs (45 kg)
*If the passenger airbag status indicator does not match the situation, do not use the seat. The passenger must ride in a different seat. Contact Tesla Service.
Informational PurposesAn informational icon, calling your attention
Note
It takes approximately six seconds after you power on Model Y for the occupant classification system (OCS) to report accurate status of the front passenger airbag. As a result, when you first power on Model Y, even in situations when it should be OFF because the seat is occupied by a weight of 20 lbs (9 kg) or less, it will take the touchscreen approximately six seconds to display the status, PASS AIRBAG OFF. If it fails to do so, contact Tesla Service and do not seat a child in the front passenger seating position.

To make sure the sensing system can correctly detect occupancy status, eliminate the following:

  • Objects lodged under the seat.
  • Heavy objects sitting on the seat (briefcase, large purse).
  • Objects wedged between the seat back and seat cushion.
  • Cargo interfering with the seat.
  • Aftermarket items attached to, or sitting on or between, the seat and occupant including but not limited to 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, ask passengers to ride in the rear seats and contact Tesla to have the airbag system checked.

Informational PurposesAn informational icon, calling your attention
Note
The front passenger occupancy sensor affects the operation of the passenger front airbags only. The side airbags are not affected.
Warning IconA warning icon, calling your attention to a possibly risky situation
Warning
If the front passenger airbag is not turning on or off as expected based on the weight thresholds previously described, contact Tesla immediately.
Warning IconA warning icon, calling your attention to a possibly risky situation
Warning
If seating a child in the front passenger seat is legally permissible in your market region, it is the driver's responsibility to ensure that the passenger front airbag is OFF. Never seat a child in a rear facing safety seat in the front passenger seat with an active airbag. DEATH or SERIOUS INJURY to the child can occur. Per recommendations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, all occupants age 12 and under must ride in the rear seats.
Warning IconA warning icon, calling your attention to a possibly risky situation
Warning
Do not use seat covers on Model Y. 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.

Ensuring Accurate Occupant Classification

To help ensure an occupant in the front passenger seat can be accurately classified, 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.
  • Incorrectly placing a child safety seat so that the entire lower section is not positioned against the seat cushion.
  • 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 contact Tesla to have the airbag system checked.

Informational PurposesAn informational icon, calling your attention
Note
Tesla follows NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) recommendations that all occupants age 12 and under must ride in a rear seating position.
Informational PurposesAn informational icon, calling your attention
Note
The front passenger occupancy sensor affects the operation of the passenger front airbags only. The side airbags are not affected.
Warning IconA warning icon, calling your attention to a possibly risky situation
Warning
Failure to follow the above instructions can adversely affect the Occupant Classification System (OCS) which can cause serious injury or death.
Warning IconA warning icon, calling your attention to a possibly risky situation
Warning
If the front passenger airbag is not turning on or off as expected, do not seat a passenger in the front passenger seat. Contact Tesla Service.
Warning IconA warning icon, calling your attention to a possibly risky situation
Warning
To ensure accuracy of the occupant detection system, do not make any modifications to the front passenger seat.
Warning IconA warning icon, calling your attention to a possibly risky situation
Warning
Do not use seat covers on Model Y. 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 classification system.

Examples of Correct and Incorrect Seating Positions

Correct seating position:

a person sitting with their feet on the floor and a green checkmark

Incorrect seating position - the passenger's feet must be on the floor:

a person sitting with their legs on the dashboard and a red x

Incorrect seating position - the passenger must not slide forward on the seat cushion:

a person sitting on the edge of the seat and a red x

Incorrect seating position - the passenger must not recline the backrest to a laying down position when the vehicle is moving:

a person reclining the seat while the car is in motion and a red x

Inflation Effects

Warning IconA warning icon, calling your attention to a possibly risky situation
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.
Informational PurposesAn informational icon, calling your attention
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 Y 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

Warning IconA warning icon, calling your attention to a possibly risky situation
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.
Warning IconA warning icon, calling your attention to a possibly risky situation
Warning
Front seat occupants should not place their arms over the airbag module, as an inflating airbag can cause fractures or other injuries.
Warning IconA warning icon, calling your attention to a possibly risky situation
Warning
Do not use seat covers on Model Y. 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.
Warning IconA warning icon, calling your attention to a possibly risky situation
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. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends a minimum distance of 10" (25 cm) between an occupant’s chest and an airbag.
Warning IconA warning icon, calling your attention to a possibly risky situation
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.
Warning IconA warning icon, calling your attention to a possibly risky situation
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.
Warning IconA warning icon, calling your attention to a possibly risky situation
Warning
To ensure correct inflation of the side airbags, maintain an unobstructed gap between an occupant’s torso and the side of Model Y.
Warning IconA warning icon, calling your attention to a possibly risky situation
Warning
Passengers shouldn't lean their heads against doors. Doing so can cause injury if a curtain airbag inflates.
Warning IconA warning icon, calling your attention to a possibly risky situation
Warning
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.
Warning IconA warning icon, calling your attention to a possibly risky situation
Warning
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.
Warning IconA warning icon, calling your attention to a possibly risky situation
Warning
Following inflation, some airbag components are hot. Do not touch until they have cooled.