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Everything You Should Know: Service Airbag Light 101

Since 1952, car airbags have been saving drivers and passengers alike during collisions. Early versions of these self-inflating safety devices relied mostly on mechanical mechanisms. But in the 1960s, the airbag was improved by including more electronics and chemical inflating mechanisms. The downside is that it has gotten far more complex and difficult to fix in case something goes wrong. Because it relies on a number of sensors to function, there will be some complications. Service airbag light will come on signalling something has gone wrong.

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Airbags are one of the most critical safety elements in your car, and you should always check that they are completely functional. Many drivers have claimed that their car's airbag light starts blinking for no apparent reason, and it is frequently ignored. If the car is in an accident and the airbags do not deploy, the driver is in grave danger. 


What does it mean when the service airbag light comes on?


Airbags are important and effective safety components. Frontal airbags, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, can reduce driver fatalities by up to 29% and passenger fatalities by up to 32% in frontal crashes. Airbags can cut your chances of dying by as much as 52%! As a result, if your service airbag light illuminates, you should act quickly and have it fixed. Here are the possible reasons or what it means when your service airbag light is on:


In the event of a collision, your airbags may not deploy


The service airbag light indicates that the vehicle's Supplemental Restraint System is malfunctioning. Various collision sensors, as well as the airbags themselves, are part of this system. When this indicator illuminates, it means there is a fault with the system, and one or more airbags may not deploy in the event of a collision. While it's possible that all of the airbags will function as designed even if the SRS warning light is illuminated, an airbag failure is a major safety risk.


Airbag module has been exposed to water


The airbag module is an electrical device, as its name implies. However, if it is exposed to water, it will cause the car's airbag warning light to illuminate. This could be in the form of flooding-related water damage or something as simple as spilling water or drinks on the seat as the airbag module in a modern car is frequently located under the seat. Moisture-induced corrosion on the module can also set off the airbag lights.


Sensors Issue


Faulty sensors are the most prevalent cause of airbag warning lights turning on. These are sensitive gadgets that detect numerous parameters on your vehicle and determine when the airbags should be deployed. These are connected to the car's computer as well as to the airbag system.


That manner, the vehicle can alert its owner if something is amiss by flashing the airbag warning light. It's possible that the sensors were accidently tripped, or that they were directly destroyed by something. If the latter is true, you may require a replacement. If the former is the case, all you have to do now is reset them.


It's not unusual for an SRS system issue to arise soon after a minor collision in which the airbags failed to deploy. One reason for this is that a crash sensor was activated but the airbags did not deploy. The SRS marking on this steering wheel indicates that it has an airbag. When an airbag crash sensor senses fast deceleration, such as in an accident, it sends a signal to the SRS computer almost instantly.


The signal is then used by the SRS computer, along with data from the seat belts and vehicle movement, to identify which airbags should be deployed. If the crash sensor was activated but the airbags did not deploy, the crash sensor may simply need to be replaced. Crash sensors aren't meant to be used in various situations.


It is feasible to test an airbag sensor, although it is not recommended. The only safe approach to test an airbag sensor is to examine the airbag control unit's fault codes and live data with an automotive diagnostic kit.


Check your diagnostic tool for any measurement data, and if the sensor has a trouble code, measure the wirings between the airbag and the sensor. If the airbag sensor's wire and connector are in good shape but the airbag control module indicates that the airbag sensor is malfunctioning, replace it! They aren't always pricey, and you don't want to take chances with these parts because you need them to operate in the event of an accident!


Seatbelt Pretensioners Issue


The SRS system in your vehicle comprises seatbelt pretensioners in addition to sensors and airbags. Seatbelt pretensioners engage when a sudden forward movement is detected on the seatbelt, such as in a forward accident. This will prevent you from colliding with the airbag, steering wheel, or dashboard and injuring yourself. 


Following that, a force limiter will minimize the strain on the occupant's chest from the tensioned seatbelt while still keeping the occupant in a safe space. The airbag warning light will also signal a problem with the seatbelt pretensioners. This is yet another reason to seek professional assistance if your vehicle's SRS system is malfunctioning.


Airbag clock springs that have become worn out


The airbag clock springs, which are located on the steering wheel, are required for the driver's airbag. This is due to the fact that the steering wheel must revolve, but the bag installed inside the wheel must have access to the electrical system. It accomplishes this by utilizing the component in question. This part however wears down overtime.


A Wiring/Electrical Issue


If your airbag light isn't caused by a malfunctioning airbag sensor, it could be a system wiring issue or even a problem with the SRS computer. If your vehicle has side airbags, the problem could be with the passenger side airbag. When the passenger seat is shifted back and forth, the wires for that airbag can become dislodged or broken. 


If you find a plug has been disconnected, do not attempt to reconnect it since you may trigger the airbag. Make an appointment for your automobile to get checked at your trusted service center because diagnosing it takes specialized tools and knowledge.

Troubleshooting an Illuminating Service Airbag Light


When you start the car, the computer in the vehicle does a system check. To demonstrate that it's operating, the light turns on for a few seconds before turning off. But if it stays on, the system is malfunctioning, and the airbag may not deploy in an accident putting you in a dangerous situation — meaning you should not drive at all until you are able to troubleshoot and fix the airbag light.


If your service airbag light stays on after you start your vehicle, then the airbag is malfunctioning. 


The airbag light in your vehicle could mean a number of problems like if your airbag has been deployed and not properly reset. When the system detects that the airbag cannot be activated because it has not been deployed, the light will illuminate. This indicates that your vehicle's airbag system is malfunctioning in some way. In this situation, the airbag light needs to be reset.


When this light comes on, it's tempting to ignore it, and there are plenty of web instructions that claim to be able to help you reset the SRS warning light. However, this is not advised. Simply resetting the light is tantamount to burying your head in the sand since there could still be a serious fault with the SRS system.

Another reason not to reset the light is that it will make future repairs more complex and expensive. When the airbag light comes on, it means the SRS computer is saving a trouble code that can notify technicians with the right tools where the issue is. This code will be removed from the system if the SRS warning light is reset making future repairs more difficult.


Ask Professional Help


It will be difficult to solve the problem of an airbag warning light. It should not be disregarded and should be checked out by a professional, just as the Check Engine light. In this situation, the mechanic will do an airbag ECU, or electronic control unit, diagnostic. This is where all of the information is kept.


If your airbags haven't been actuated or deployed but you're still seeing an airbag light, it's most likely due to a computer malfunction. It's possible that the airbag system has become deactivated and malfunctioning for some reason, or that the computer simply made a mistake and the airbags are working properly.


If your service airbag light comes on, the best thing you can do is take your car for a repair immediately. By inspecting the system with the aid of a car diagnostic internal system, a mechanic can assist you in dealing with the airbag light. He'll then either change the airbag sensor or figure out what else is wrong with the airbag system.


Clear Airbag ECU Before Using After the Repair


The airbag ECU must be cleared before the airbag may be used and the airbag warning light can be turned off. Remove the airbag ECU and send it to a business that conducts the work to clear it for you if you're sure there's no problem with the system. Your car dealer can also do this, though they are more likely to install a brand new airbag ECU, after which the airbag warning light should go away.


Your Vehicle Have Been in An Accident


The light may illuminate if your vehicle was involved in a collision that activated the impact sensors but did not cause the airbags to deploy. Because the control module may believe the airbags have been deployed, it will not deploy them if you are involved in another collision. In most cases, a reset will solve the problem.

How much does it cost to fix airbag light?


The cost of replacing an airbag sensor ranges from $100 to $600, depending on the car model and labor expenses. Airbag sensors range in price from $50 to $300, with labor charges ranging from $50 to $300. The airbag sensor, like the replacement, is a delicate component. Even for an expert, diagnosing and installing the airbag sensor can take up to two hours.


The airbag sensor is usually not very expensive, and you may expect to pay $50 to $300 for a new one. Never buy aftermarket sensors and always buy OEM original authentic sensors – don't take the chance! You can save money by replacing the airbag sensor yourself if you are highly comfortable repairing cars and closely following the repair instructions.


If you have any doubts regarding the replacement, have it done by a professional. Remember that it is a critical component, and you want to ensure that it is properly installed in the event of an accident. There's also the possibility that if you make a mistake, all of the car's airbags will deploy, costing thousands of dollars to repair.


Can you reset airbag light without tool?


Most vehicle models make it hard to reset the service airbag light without a scanner. This is for your own safety, since you should always repair the defect if the airbag light comes on. Fortunately, if you fix the problem, the airbag light will go away on its own in many automobile models.


However, in some older cars, the airbag light can be reset without a scanner by disconnecting the car battery wires. Next is to check if there is any loose wires or rust in the connector plug underneath the driver's or passenger's seat. Restart your car after spraying the connecting plugs with an electronic cleaner.


If you can't identify any issues there, you should invest in an OBD2 scanner or have the codes read by a mechanic; otherwise, you'll have to guess the problem out of the blue.


It's essential not to drive if this service airbag light comes on, no matter what the cause is. Airbags and seat belts are vital safety measures, and this light indicates that they may fail when they are most needed.

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