An airbag light that stays on can be a scary thing. It indicates that something is wrong with the seatbelts or airbags and driving your car is unsafe. But if you’re stuck and need help, call for help; there are some simple ways to fix this issue yourself.
A car’s airbag light will illuminate momentarily each time you start your vehicle. If the supplemental restraint system (SRS) light is illuminated, it indicates a malfunction and requires immediate attention.
The airbag system uses sensors, control modules, and wiring to detect and respond to collisions. The airbag light could illuminate if any parts are damaged or loose, which is why my airbag light stays on for several reasons, including wear and tear over time, rodent damage, and corroded sensor connections.
Many people mistakenly assume that disconnecting the battery terminals will reset their airbag light, but this can damage electrical components and will not clear any codes stored by the computer. Connecting a YOUCANIC whole-system scanner and following the directions to read the codes triggering the airbag light is much safer.
The passenger airbag light typically turns on for a few seconds each time you start your vehicle, then stays on after the computer has completed an internal system check. Many things, including a crash or weight sensor, a clock spring, a defective seat belt sensor, etc., can trigger it.
A faulty sensor can trigger your airbag light even if the airbags have never been deployed. Many of these sensors are underneath the front seats, particularly the passenger seat. They are easily damaged, especially if you have trash or a heavy object stuffed under the seat. Getting them wet will also cause problems with the electronics inside. Inspecting the sensors’ wiring and connections for signs of corrosion or damage is crucial.
Another problem with the passenger seat sensor is that it might mistakenly think you must wear your seat belt. It can happen if the seat belt snaps into the buckle and doesn’t latch securely.
If you need clarification on the problem, try connecting an OBD-II scanner with airbag capabilities (such as the YOUCANIC whole system scanner) and running a diagnostic. It will give you a code that can help you find the underlying problem. You can also visit a shop to have the issue checked and repaired. They usually use a scan tool and a factory reset to fix the problem.
A Bad Battery
The airbag sensor might be faulty if you’ve had a minor collision. It is a widespread cause of the airbag light turning on. A mechanic can test this for you and replace the sensor if it is faulty. There’s also a possibility that the backup battery for your airbag computer has been depleted. If the airbag light remains illuminated, a new backup battery and a system reset must be installed.
Your onboard computer deals with many different circuits and sensors. These include those that detect whether or not you have a passenger in the car and seat belts that are fastened. Occasionally, the computer may make an error in reading these sensors and will turn on the airbag light to warn you of the problem.
It is a severe issue that should be addressed as soon as possible, as driving with the airbags disabled could prove deadly in a severe accident. Regardless of why your airbag light is on, it would be best to take it to an expert as soon as possible for a professional diagnostic.
A Faulty Computer
Your car’s computer system is responsible for many different systems and functions, and the airbags are one of those. If the SRS light stays on, your car’s airbag ECU (electronic control unit) will likely become faulty. Mechanics can diagnose this issue by running a diagnostic on the computer, which has a storage area for airbag data.
One possible problem is that the front seats have weight sensors to “tell” the SRS computer whether or not there’s an occupant in the seat, and these can be disrupted by things like a coin or other object stuck in the seat belt buckle mechanism. Another possibility is that the clock spring in your steering wheel is breaking down, causing it to lose electrical contact with the SRS computer when you turn the wheel.
It’s best to bring your vehicle in for service when you notice the airbag light staying on. Your mechanic will hook a code reader to the airbag computer and retrieve an error message telling them exactly what’s wrong.
A Faulty Airbag
The airbag light could illuminate if your car has been involved in an accident, but the airbags didn’t deploy for some reason. If so, you should take your vehicle to a professional for a diagnostic test.
A low or drained backup battery in the airbag control module is one of the most common reasons your airbag light is still on. It will usually go away once the battery has been recharged or a scan tool is used to remove a soft code error from the airbag computer.
Sometimes, an airbag light stays on because a sensor mistakenly senses that there is a person in the passenger seat. It can happen if you put something heavy like a box in the passenger seat or if someone has sat there while your car was in the garage for an extended time.
A worn-out clock spring in the airbag control module or a dead backup airbag battery can also cause this airbag warning light to stay on. If the airbag warning light is on, you can diagnose the issue by connecting a scan tool to the diagnostic link connector under the steering wheel and running a code read on the airbag ECU.
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