A Guide to Resetting Airbag Light after Accident, Deactivating & Replacing the Airbags

reset airbag light

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The airbag light/SRS light remaining on usually means there is a problem with your belts. In case of accidents, the impact causes activation of the car’s crash sensors, which in turn turns that light on.

Other causes of the light unnecessarily turning on are:

  • Problem with the sensors themselves
  • Faulty wiring
  • Problem with the airbags
  • Computer issues

Whatever the reason is, a reset airbag light service on the car has to be conducted. Don’t drive your car until this has been done. Otherwise, you will expose yourself to unnecessary risks because chances are, when another accident happens, the sensors won’t work and the airbags will not deploy.


Airbag module needs resetting

The sensors mentioned above are run by a computer system in your car. It is called the airbag module.

If this module is compromised or not properly working, the sensors will also not work. During a collision, that will mean the sensors will not be able to receive information, and therefore there will no information that can be relayed to the module.

Since there’s no information to be relayed to the module, there will also be no deployment of airbags in such a very crucial event. Thus, having a faulty airbag module is equivalent to putting yourself and your passengers at risk of serious injuries and even death.

If you see the airbag light is on after an accident, one of the things you must do is have your car inspected by a qualified technician who will test if the module is working.

If you can turn off the airbag light on your own, this tells you that there is nothing in the airbag system that needs expert inspection. Here’s how to turn off airbag light.

airbag light
  • Turn the ignition on.
  • Push the switch to the “ON” position.
  • The airbag light will turn on. It should stay illuminated for a few seconds and will automatically shut off. Turn the switch off.
  • Test again by repeating the above steps two more times.
  • Start the car’s engine. The airbag light should turn on for a few seconds, shut off, and remain off until the next time the car’s engine is turned on again.
  • The car’s airbag light has been reset.

To help you in assessing the condition of your airbag system, you might want to buy an airbag reset tool. Choose one that is compact and portable for ease of use.

A reset airbag tool can also be used for the following:

  • Oil Reset
  • Steering Angle Calibration
  • Battery Register / Battery Maintenance
  • ABS Bleeding
  • Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) Regeneration
  • Electronic Throttle Position Reset / Learn
  • Tire Pressure Monitor System Reset
  • Gear Learning
  • Fuel Injector Coding
  • Immobilizer Matching

Specifically, you can buy an airbag code reader whose function is to read the SRS (Supplemental Restraint System) code or the airbag system code when the airbag light is on. With this tool, you can detect faulty sensors, wiring issues, blown-up ABS, etc.

Faulty sensors, wiring issues, and blown up ABS fuse are some of the main causes of the light being on.


More Details about Airbag Light/SRS Light: Meaning, Causes and Fix

Thanks for stopping by. For all about airbag light/SRS light - What does the SRS/Airbag light mean? Why is Airbag light on? Check out the article.


Deactivating the airbag system

There are conditions when the airbag system needs to be disabled. In 1997, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration allowed car manufacturers to install low-powered airbags. In the following year, the agency allowed vehicle owners to get an on and off switch for their cars’ airbags.

Conditions that warrant deactivation of the airbag system are as follows:

  • People with eyeglasses
  • People with pacemakers
  • Angina
  • Emphysema
  • Mastectomy
  • Asthma
  • Advanced age
  • Osteoporosis
  • Previous back or neck surgery
  • Arthritis
  • Pregnancy
  • Children can be injured with airbags accidentally going off. Because their body parts are not in the same locations as body parts of adults, it is important to consider deactivating the airbags located where your children are usually positioned in the car.

    Follow these steps to disable the airbag system:

    airbag system

    Tools you need: ratchet, 8 mm socket, Philips screwdriver, and a flathead screwdriver. 

    • Disconnect the negative battery cable. Let the battery discharge for 15 minutes. This will drain the voltage system and prevent the possibility of electrocution.
    • Locate the fuse box and look for the fuse for the airbags. Remove it.
      The next step is to disable the passenger seat airbag. Remove the cover of the dashboard. Use the flathead and screwdrivers to remove it.
    • Look for yellow wiring inside. There is a green lock pin there. Push that pin using the flathead screwdriver to undo the harness.
    • Remove the lower panel of the car’s steering wheel.
    • Disable the rest of the airbags by doing the same step with the yellow wiring location. 

    When to replace airbags

    One thing to think about your car for safety purposes is replacement. When do you need to replace airbags?

    The burden of determining whether airbags are properly working isn’t entirely on the vehicle’s owner. Almost all cars have an airbag diagnostic function and an indicator light that provide an alert if there is a problem.

    In GM (General Motors) cars, that self-assessment function checks the system 10 times a second.

    Here are the times to consider when to replace airbags:

    airbags
    • If the SRS light/Airbag light  has come on or gone dark, call a technician. Car airbags are covered with limited warranty only.
    • If your car’s model was released within the period from 1980 to 1990, check the owner’s manual when to contact the manufacturer for airbag inspection or replacement. 
    • When purchasing a used car, inspect the SRS light. Make sure you check the seams of the airbag module to check if nothing there is misshapen or out of place.
    • The government issued a warning about counterfeit airbags that have been illegally imported to the US. Car owners should be careful in choosing repair shops in verifying the source of parts.

    When airbags have been deployed in a car accident, you need to buy new ones to replace the inflated ones.

    Replacement of airbags is very expensive. Hopefully, your airbags are covered under your collision coverage. Depending on the age and value of your vehicle, replacement may be deemed as a significant loss.

    However, a replacement of airbags has to be considered as a necessary action to take if it can ensure total safety for your family and all the people inside your car when you’re driving.



    About the Author JamesL Davis

    James is a certified auto technician specializing in commercial vehicles. With 30 years of experience under his belt, James has encountered almost every type of automotive issue there is! Besides his day job at the repair shop, he is also an amateur race car driver.

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