Hidden dangers of airbags and sun visors in car accidents

You want your airbags to protect you from injury in an accident. You want to be able to use a visor to protect your eyes from the harsh sun. However, in some vehicles, deploying an airbag and an active sun visor at the same time can have dangerous consequences, including blinding you. This page describes hazards for some of these vehicles.


A young man drives a 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse in rural Texas. As the sun dipped on the horizon, passengers pulled down their visors to shade their eyes. As the car rolled into the Little League lot, its left front wheel hit a small post in the middle of the driveway, which was obscured by dust kicked up by other vehicles. Despite the low speed and the absence of any damage to the front bumper or front end, the airbag deployed.

When the passenger airbag deployed, it slammed into the passenger’s sun visor (sun visor), smashing it and flying out. As a result, our client was shot in the face and lost sight in one eye. The visor is only connected to the car by a single wire, since the airbag detached it from the attachment.

The force of the deploying airbag is so great that it rips the visor’s plastic shell from the jagged metal inserts inside the visor. The force was also strong enough to shatter the vanity mirror that was part of the sun visor.

Given this dangerous interaction between the airbag and the sun visor, and the devastating injuries that can result, it’s no surprise that the surface of the airbag has blood on it.

our test

To determine whether the passenger airbag is designed in a way that allows it to tear off the sun visor when it deploys when in use, we tested another 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse at an independent air bag testing facility. In our tests, we used both live cameras and very sophisticated high-speed cameras. High-speed video of this test allowed us to capture the passenger airbag/sun visor interaction in great detail and clearly documented how the airbag ripped the visor from its attachment.

In each of our tests, the passenger airbag hit the sun visor, ripping it from its attachment, and sending it flying out of the cabin, where it could be a hazard to passengers.

Although this accident, and the tests we conducted, occurred in a 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse, other cars are at risk as well. For example, our investigation revealed that the following cars sold in the United States all use the same or substantially similar passenger air bags and passenger sun visors as the cars we tested that proved dangerous:

o 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 Mitsubishi Eclipse

o 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder

o 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 Dodge Stratus

o 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 Chrysler Sebring

Other cars may have different airbags or different sun visors, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not dangerous. For example, some other vehicles may also have a passenger airbag that deploys up the windshield, which can hit the sun visor when it is in use. Meanwhile, some other vehicles may have visors that aren’t specifically designed to stay together after being hit by an airbag.

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