Inflatable bags in the trash, cars in the junkyard

Airbags in the trash, cars in the junkyard


Subjects that make the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec look bad are increasing day by day. And since Mme Guilbault has other fish to fry than the various files of the SAAQ, I told myself that we should let go a little. However, another file that has been going on for too many years resurfaces, while I am about to restore a damaged car on the occasion of the show Roll to the next one.< /em>

It is a 2012 Nissan hit at the front, whose market value is approximately $8,000, and for which the insurer estimated the repair cost at more than $10,000. As a result, the car was declared a total loss and scrapped. However, any good coachbuilder can repair this car for less than $4,000. All because the insurer has overvalued the purchase of the parts and because it has an obligation by the SAAQ to install new airbags, with all the accompanying devices.

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On average, a new airbag from the dealership costs three to four times more than a used one. A used one, for which the SAAQ considerably slowed down the marketing following a doubt which settled in the industry, while the thefts of air bags multiplied and certain companies resold air bags “rebuilt”. Out of caution, but also because the reconstruction of airbags could represent a potential danger, the Quebec industry was forced to stop selling used airbags.

Now, what is a used air bag? Simply, the one that is in your car, as in all those that have been on the road, since the purchase of the vehicle in new condition. A used item is therefore in reality an air bag that has never been deployed, but which is systematically thrown away in Quebec, while the other Canadian provinces are free to use them.

You will have understood that the cost of repairing a car can explode in Quebec for this reason alone. This also explains why several easily repairable vehicles are exported to other provinces, where they can be put back into circulation at a lower cost. This is the case with this 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross, with only 5,000 km, which, ignoring the air bags, can be repaired for around $7,000. Hood, fenders, grille, bumpers, radiator support, some sensors and some paint. However, in Quebec, it is necessary to add more than $12,000 in air bags to the bill. Normally, it would only cost $3000 or $4000 if used bags could be called in, taken from another accident vehicle whose bags were not deployed. It is for this reason that the insurer chose to declare this car as a total loss, which would certainly not have been the case in Ontario. 

For many years, the ARVAQ (Association des réparateurs de vehicles accidentés du Québec) has been trying to obtain authorization from the SAAQ in order to be able to freely repair vehicles with used air bags. Repairs which would obviously not be made without inspection, but which would allow healthy competition with other provinces, where these rules do not exist. Of course, a vehicle that has been damaged and then repaired must go through the inspection stage, which includes the validation of the invoices for the parts used for the repair. However, we have been banging our noses against the door for too long, the people responsible for this file at the SAAQ obviously not being open to discussions.

In fact, it is now possible to approve an air bag by making a long and arduous request via a web platform ( However, the approval process is so complex that it discourages the vast majority of repairers, even independent ones. What's more, all the insurers still refuse to get these bags. We should even add that a large majority of used parts dealers refuse to sell air bags and that only a few members of ARPAC (Association of car and truck parts dealers in Quebec) are authorized to make requests for the certification of used airbags.

Because of this situation, Quebec wastes countless reusable airbags and, by extension, thousands of vehicles categorized as total loss, when it should be otherwise. An ecological disaster, but also a financial one, which should be resolved once and for all. Alas, one more file for the SAAQ, which, at the moment, clearly has other fish to fry.