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Car Care Advice

7 Reasons Why Your Airbag Light Is On (+How to Reset It)

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Your supplemental restraint system (SRS) is an essential safety system that activates your airbag light or SRS light when something’s wrong.

The light depicts a seated person wearing their seatbelt with a circle (airbag) in front of them. It can shine red or amber or display the words ‘AIRBAG.

Want to know why the light is on in the first place?
We’ve got the answers! We’ll also discuss six ways you can reset the airbag light after you’ve repaired the root issue.  

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Let’s get started.

7 Impactful Reasons Why Your Airbag Light Is On

Your airbag light activating can mean multiple things besides an airbag issue.

Let’s dive into some of the reasons behind this dashboard light:

1. Depleted Car Battery

A drained car battery could be the culprit since your airbag’s backup battery relies on your car’s battery. If your main battery is dead, your airbag battery will lose power — triggering a flashing airbag light. This should resolve on its own after you’ve fixed the battery issue and your airbag’s backup battery receives enough power. 

2. Worn Out Airbag Clock Spring

A clock spring is a spirally wound flat wire inside the steering wheel. It ensures that your steering wheel can turn without affecting the electrical wiring i,e, the airbag connectors connecting to the driver’s airbag within your steering column. 

The constant movement of the airbag clock spring can cause it to wear down and disconnect your driver side airbag. This could delay the airbag deployment and activate the airbag light.

3. Wet Airbag Module

The airbag module is usually under your driver or passenger seat. But some vehicles might have it under the radio or steering wheel. Check your owner’s manual when locating your airbag control module. 

The airbag control module won’t work if it gets wet or experiences corrosion and physical damage. So be careful of spills, as it might damage your control module. 

4. Sensor Issues

Multiple sensors (knock sensors, TPS, impact sensors) ensure your car runs smoothly. If malfunctioning or damaged sensors send the wrong signal to your car’s computer, it could trigger a flashing airbag light.  It’ll be difficult for the average Joe to determine why an airbag sensor is defective. Always opt for a professional mechanic to run diagnostics.

5. Your Seatbelts Aren’t Locked In

Any obstruction or damaged parts can prevent your seat belt from engaging. And since cars have sensors that detect if your seat belt isn’t buckled correctly, it’ll trigger your airbag light. Some vehicles’ airbag lights even activate if you’re not wearing a seat belt. So always stay safe by buckling up!

6. It Wasn’t Reset After a Collision

You’ll need to have your vehicle serviced after collisions, especially if your sensors caused the airbag to deploy. A mechanic should replace your deployed airbag and then reset the airbag light. But sometimes, mechanics may forget to do an airbag light reset after an airbag replacement. 

Note: An airbag light reset is still necessary after minor collisions trigger your airbag sensor and activate the light.  

7. Your Airbag Is ‘Off’ 

Certain vehicles allow you to deactivate your passenger-side airbag, not your driver side airbag.

But why would anyone do that? 
It’s a safety precaution since a deployed airbag can severely injure young children or fur babies in your passenger seat. But remember to reactivate the airbag to protect your next passenger. 

So, you’ve figured out why your airbag light is on, and now you want to make it disappear. Continue reading to find out how!  

6 Ways to Reset Your Airbag Light 

If a mechanic repairs your airbag, they’ll reset it for you. If you’ve taken the DIY route to fix the airbag issue, here are different ways to reset your airbag warning light:  

1. Turn Your Car On and Off

This helps reset your car’s computer by turning your ignition switch on and off. 

After you’ve turned the ignition switch on, the warning light should stay on for about seven seconds and then disappear. If it doesn’t disappear, try this a few more times before moving on to another method.  

2. Go For a Test Drive

Before driving, check the airbag module wires under the two front seats. Don’t drive if there’s any visible damage to the wires or a loose connection. If everything is fine, take a 3 to 5-minute drive. This’ll give your vehicle time to reset its systems, and your airbag lights should disappear.  

3. Locate and Check Your Passenger Airbag Switch

As mentioned before, some vehicles have a passenger air bag switch so it can be activated or disengaged. You’ll have a constantly illuminated airbag light when the switch is off. The fix is to turn the switch back on. 

4. Check Your Seatbelts 

Your supplemental restraint system comprises your airbag system, seat belt pretensioner, and impact sensors. A faulty seat belt pretensioner or any seat belt obstruction can trigger your SRS warning light. 

5. Verify If Your Passenger Weight Sensor Is Triggered

Your sensor’s electrical wiring may mistake a heavy bag or box in your passenger seat as a person and expect it to wear a seat belt. You could move the object to the floor rear seats or have it ‘wear’ a seat belt. 

6. Use an OBD-II Scanner to Reset the Codes

If you’re confident in your mechanic capabilities, purchase a scan tool to clear and reset your airbag lights and other diagnostic codes

Connect the scan tool to the diagnostic link airbag connectors below your steering wheel. Run a scan on the airbag ECU and find the exact problem you need to repair. But call a mechanic if the repairs are too complex for you to handle.  

Got questions about the air bag light?
Let’s address them.

4 Airbag Light FAQs

Here are answers to some airbag warning light questions you may have:

1. Can I Drive With the Airbag Light On?

Your airbag light won’t stop your car from running, but it’ll be perilous. This warning light indicates that an essential part of your safety system isn’t working. And in case of a crash, your SRS module won’t allow airbag deployment, which can have deadly consequences. 

We don’t recommend driving with an illuminated airbag light. The best course of action is to identify and fix the problem ASAP. 

2. How Much Does It Cost to Fix the Airbag Light?

It depends on the repairs required. Here are some approximate costs (including labor charges):

3. Are There Different Types of Airbags? 

Yes. You have the:

4. How Do Airbags Work?

Airbags deploy if you’re driving at high speed and your crash or impact sensors detect you hit something. Your impact sensors and accelerometers trigger your SRS module. The crash sensor signals your airbag electronic control unit (airbag ECU) to activate the inflator system, which instantaneously inflates your airbag. 

Closing Thoughts

An activated SRS light signals an issue with your car’s airbag system. However, it doesn’t say precisely what’s wrong with it. 

AutoNation Mobile Service can help decode what the SRS warning light means and, if necessary, perform a successful airbag replacement. And if you need help with a lit check engine light or clutch repair, AutoNation Mobile Service can accurately diagnose and fix these issues as well. 

Contact us today, and we’ll send our qualified technicians straight to your driveway. All repairs and services come with a 12-month / 12,000-mile warranty.