Chrysler Motors has begun installing driver-side air bags as standard equipment in six of its car lines: the Dodge Daytona. Dodge Diplomat, Plymouth Gran Fury, Chrysler Fifth Avenue. Chrysler LeBaron coupe, and Chrysler LeBaron convertible.

The air bag and accompanying knee bolster are a supplement to the conventional restraint system already installed in the six models.

(By the 1990-model year, federal regulations will require that passive restraints, either air bags or belts, be standard in all passenger cars. The National Highway Traffic-Safety Administration began phasing in this requirement with the 1987-model year by stipulating that 10 percent of a manufacturer's passenger cars be equipped with passive restraints. The subsequent phase-in period called for installation of passive restraints in 25 percent of the 1988-model cars, which increases to 40 percent for 1989-model vehicles.)

The driver-side air bag is designed to inflate in one-twentieth of a second from the instant one of the crash sensors, mounted on either side of the car's radiator and the passenger compartment sensor, detects a deceleration of sufficient magnitude to require the air bag to deploy. The threshold deceleration for air bag deployment is equivalent to that generated when a car runs into a fixed barrier at approximately miles per hour.

The bag deflates by venting the nitrogen through holes in the bag. After the air bag has been deployed, the air bag module and, generally, the front sensors must be replaced to bring the system back into safety specifications.

The Chrysler air bag system consists of an air bag module, special steering column and four-spoke steering wheel, special wiring assemblies and wiring components, collision sensors, diagnostic module, and readiness indicator.

The module containing the bag itself is mounted on the steering wheel. The air bag module is covered and protected by the steering wheel trim cover.

The driver-side air bag system on Fifth Avenue, Diplomat, and Gran Fury works in conjunction with a unibelt system and a padded driver-side knee bolster. Center front seats and all rear seating positions on these models will continue to be equipped with lap belts.

A three-point unibelt continues as the primary restraint system for the driver on the Daytona and LeBaron coupe. This unibelt positions the driver and provides protection in those collisions when, because of vehicle speed or angle of impact, the air bag is not intended to deploy.

The passenger-side restraint on these vehicles is a fixed, two-point automatic torso belt with manual lap belt and knee bolster.