Two ways to tell interchangeability: visit your friendly Dodge dealer and ask them to look up part numbers for the various applications and see if any of them match.
Visit a local salvage yard. They will have Hollander interchange books and can tell you which units are the same. Don't pester them if they're busy, but good salespeople will be happy to give you free information in the hopes you'll be a customer in the future.
Keep in mind that the dealer might find different numbers for parts that will interchange. There might have been minor changes from one year to the next, like the length of air bag mounting bolts, the addition of a moisture seal on a module connector, even an internal circuitry change for improved reliability.
If the part numbers are the same on your old and new parts, go for it. If the air bags fit physically, they will probably work, but there's some legal ramifications to consider. The 2500 is a heavier truck and will have more mass when it gets into a fight with another vehicle, so it will slow down a little slower. Considering this, the air bag might be designed to pop with a little less force. A good lawyer will have a field day if he finds the wrong part in a safety system, and they do look for these things.
To my knowledge all truck steering columns are the same. It is more expensive to develop multiple designs for similar applications, so if the columns are the same, the air bag mounts will be the same. There could be design changes though from one year to the next. Besides changing the airbag, it is recommended you also replace the clock-spring under the steering wheel because the burning rocket fuel usually melts the electrical connector. There is a resistor inside the airbag canister that is measured by the air bag computer to determine when the air bag is plugged in. This is constantly monitored whenever the ignition switch is turned on. When the airbag connector, or any other connector in the system, is unplugged, a shorting bar contacts the two terminals so static electricity can't pop the bag. A melted connector can result in an intermittent connection which would light the Airbag warning light and since the shorting bar is moved out of the way, you have an open circuit that is vulnerable to static electricity. Ever get a shock on a door handle after sliding your butt across the seat? A static shock that you can feel is at least 3000 volts. An airbag will pop with 9 volts!
A quality repair shop will not risk their reputation or leave themselves open to lawsuits by installing questionable parts. As far as seat belts, I would expect used ones to be ok as long as they weren't in a crash. The stress could have caused damage to the latches and stitching. In a hard crash, the webbing will actually melt a little from the stress. That's one way the cops can prove someone was wearing their seat belt.
All crash sensors are supposed to be replaced also after a crash. They also have internal resistors that are monitored by the computer. Although the old ones will appear to be working fine, the reason to replace them is the movable contact may have arced when it tripped previously, and left a pitted spot. Although very slight, you don't want to take the chance on it not working next time due to the contact hitting the exact same spot. That is also the reason for replacing the computer module. It has a "safing" sensor that may have become pitted. In a crash, the airbag is fired when the safing sensor AND one of the front sensors trip at the same time. A pitted or arced contact could prevent airbag deployment at just the time you need it.
Thursday, March 26th, 2009 AT 3:11 AM