Interview with Jeremy Hoffpauir, P.E., U.S. Forensic Mechanical Engineer
When asked about determining the recent airbag issues, Mr. Hoffpauir stated that the faulty air-bag inflators are present on a large number of vehicles across various vehicle manufacturers. He explained, “Basically, the inflator (part that is actually in the steering wheel or dash) can rupture when the airbag is deployed, shooting pieces of metal at the occupant. From a forensic engineering perspective, we analyze the inflator to see if it failed.”
In addition to air bag inflator investigations, Mr. Hoffpauir states that he works on several cases for clients who ask, “Based on this accident, should the air bags have deployed?” He explained that these cases are more involved. “My first step is to measure the crush damage to get a delta V range to determine if the impact was even severe enough to merit airbag deployment. We then run a scan on the airbag system to determine if there are any fault codes present indicating if there is a problem with the system. If we actually locate a DTC (Diagnostic Trouble Code), then we have to start troubleshooting the entire airbag system to determine the origin of the failure. Also, in most of these cases, we download data from the Crash Data Recorders to analyze what was actually recorded.”
For questions regarding airbags or other automotive topics, you may contact Mr. Hoffpauir at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Automotive Page.