How the side airbags work
When fully inflated, the side airbags reduce the risk of injuries to the upper part of the body.
Fig. 181 Side airbags in inflated condition
In certain types of side collisions the side airbag is triggered on the impact side of the vehicle ⇒ fig. 181.
The front airbags, side airbags and the head-protection airbag may be triggered together in certain types of accident.
When the system is triggered, the airbag is filled with propellant gas.
In order to provide the desired extra protection in an accident, the airbags have to inflate extremely rapidly (within fractions of a second). The airbag releases a fine dust when it inflates. This is quite normal and does not mean there is a fire in the vehicle.
When fully deployed, the airbags cushion the impact for the occupants and help to reduce the risk of injury to the whole upper part of the body (i.e. the chest, stomach and pelvis) on the side facing the door.