There have been some images circulating on the seedier, more Russian side of the Internet showing a hapless Mercedes driver with his forearm horribly branded by a Mercedes logo from an airbag deployment. Trouble is it's totally bullshit.

The internet has lent validity to the phrase "believe half of what you read and none of what you see." These jokers are a perfect example. On the face of things, a terrible scar resulting from the explosives in an airbag are somewhat believeable, until you take more than two seconds to think about it. The reasons this is fake include, but are not limited to:

  • First, and foremost the heat transfer doesn't work out. The airbag's explosion takes place deep within the steering wheel, the hot gas fills the airbag and the little plastic door covering the whole airbag flips out of the way in fractions of a second. There's no time for the heat of the explosion to transfer to the badge, ignoring the fact the badge is made of plastic and would melt when heated to branding temperatures.
  • Despite the forces involved with an accident wherein an airbag deploys, these images expect us to believe the drivers arm would be in contact with the red-hot (melted) Mercedes logo long enough, and in a stable enough state so as to result in a perfect three pointed star. It also assumes the driver had the palm of his hand placed very firmly on the top of the steering column through the steering wheel. This is the only way the arc of the air bag panel would possibly put the Mercedes logo in contact with his forearm.
  • The two occupants just happened to have a flash-equipped digital camera with a photographer in the car to shoot the aftermath (outside shot)
  • Despite seeming to be images taken immediately following an accident, there is no smoke in the cabin from the airbag explosion, no immediately visible abrasions, no other injury whatsoever. Especially impressive since the driver isn't wearing a seat belt.

So what's the point of all this? Why did we go to all this trouble? Because we expect better hoaxes. Half-assing things only pisses us off. When pulled the Porsche Cayman shooting brake hoax, it was done so well we started looking at how much our own cars would fetch on the open market. Bottom line is if you're going to try this kind of thing, go big or go home.


Pick a cheap car, not a Benz. Something with a reputation for poor quality and shoddy engineering, it plays into the notion of injury through incompetence much better. Next, think about the physics involved for at least one second, it's not hard and it might just make things turn out better. Finally, no matter how good your makeup is, nobody's going to believe a photographer just happened to be on site to document the injury. Camera phones are ubiquitous, they take identifiably shitty pictures, and they are believable in any situation.

Hoaxsters, go home and get your shine box. [EnglishRussia]