Why is my airbag light on? — causes and fixes
The airbag is a crucial component of the vehicle’s supplemental restraint system (SRS). It is an essential safety or lifesaving component that comes to the rescue in emergencies or a terrible road accident. Airbags save the driver and passengers from serious injury and prevent the loss of lives.
If the airbag light on your vehicle keeps flashing, it is essential to find out the cause to prevent you from being unprotected in any unfortunate emergency. If your seat belt is on and the airbag light is flickering, you shouldn’t ignore it because it indicates that you have a nonfunctional airbag in your vehicle.
It is easy to overlook an airbag light since it does not affect everyday driving, but getting it checked will protect you if there is a collision. You may be wondering, “why is my airbag light on?” In this article, we will delve into the causes of the issue.
Why is my airbag light on?
Airbags are one of the primary safety features in a vehicle. If the airbag warning light starts flashing, it is crucial to take action to resolve the problem. Some of the reasons why your airbag light is on include;
The SRS in modern vehicles consists of various components, including several sensors that all connect to the main computer or ECM of the car. If one or more sensors has a malfunction of any type, the vehicle’s computer will get alarmed and, in turn, illuminate the airbag warning light
Triggered crash sensors
Crash sensors may get included at various points in your car. These car sensors measure the exerted force on your vehicle, and if the pressure is enormous enough, it will trigger the airbags.
If you were involved in a minor fender bender and the airbags were not deployed, you may notice that the airbag warning light comes on shortly after that. It is likely because the crash sensors were triggered but not significant enough to deploy the airbags.
A deactivated airbag is one of the most common causes of the airbag warning light coming on. There could be an issue with the SRS module, crash sensor, or other airbag components. The sensor in the passenger seat that determines whether the airbag should be active can get damaged and affect the airbag flashing light.
Depleted battery backup of the airbag
The deletion of the battery backup of your airbag is one of the common reasons for your airbag warning light to be on. This is typically caused by the recent draining of the car battery. This issue often resolves itself when the battery is fully recharged, but you may need to detach the soft code error from the airbag control module with a scan tool to correct the issue.
The clock spring needs replacement
The airbag clock spring maintains constancy between the airbag of the diver’s seat and the electrical wiring by entwining in and out the steering wheel. The slim circuit bands may become worn or brittle and can cause the driver’s seat airbag to report a soft-code error to the airbag control module, which causes the airbag warning light to start flashing.
The wear out of the circuit band is due to regular use. You can not determine the clock spring problem yourself without the aid of a quality OBD2 scan tool which helps to point out the issue. Even if you check if you have a faulty clock spring, we recommend taking it to a professional mechanic for replacement.
Seat belt problem
Failure to put on your seatbelt can cause the airbag light to illuminate. However, some other seat belt issues can cause the airbag light to flicker as well. Your seat belt may not snap securely into the buckle and stay in place.
There could be a problem with the sensors in the buckle, and they do not relay signals to the computer that you have fastened your seat belt. The airbag light can also come on if a seatbelt pre-tensioner needs to get replaced.
Corroded or wet airbag module
The airbag control module is located under the front passenger’s seat or driver’s seat in most vehicles. If your car gets exposed to high water for even a little bit, the airbag control module will be exposed to moisture, resulting in corrosion. When an airbag control module gets corrupted, it will generate a diagnostic trouble code immediately that will make the airbag light start flashing.
How to reset the airbag light
Turn your ignition on and off
This procedure should be the first to do when encountering the airbag light issue. You should follow the easy steps that require timing the airbag light.
- Turn on the ignition switch and wait for the airbag light to turn on.
- Turn off the ignition switch and wait for a few seconds.
- Repeat the initial process once or twice before starting the engine. Your airbag light will come on for some seconds before shutting off.
Restart your vehicle and perform a test drive
Restarting a vehicle and performing test drives may not work for all vehicles. You should consider this step if the airbag light does not stay on for long.
It would help if you restarted your ignition, then went for a short drive. If the airbag light goes away afterward, the problem is most likely resolved; if it is not, you should perform other resetting procedures.
Examine the passenger airbag switch
The passenger seat airbag button is only available in some cars and should be one of the first things to check when trying to shut off the airbag light. Someone could turn it off erroneously, causing the airbag light to stay on.
Ensure that the seat belts are working correctly and fastened
Non-use of seat belts can disable the airbag. It is essential to ensure the proper function of seatbelts and seat belt sensors. Before replacing your seat belt sensor, inspect the buckle inside to see if anything is stuck inside.
Verify that the passenger seat sensors are not applied
Vehicles with overly sensitive passenger weight sensors can easily trip by placing a container on the passenger seat. This results in the airbag light turning on. You can resolve this issue by either removing the object from the seat or by hooking up the seat belt.
Use a scanner with an SRS reset option
You can purchase a scanner with SRS capability to perform an airbag light reset if you are mechanically inclined. It is crucial to note that not all OBD-II devices are airbag light reset tools. Getting a scanner with the needed feature consents a bit of research.
Address faulty airbag sensors
If any sensor breaks, corrodes or stops working, you will likely see the airbag light turned on. If you replace the control unit, a bad sensor or water-damaged components may help resolve the issue.
Replace or fix a faulty clock spring
When the clock spring gets broken or damaged, it can cause a flashing airbag light. A faulty clock spring is expensive to fix. It costs about $400. You can fix the issue yourself if you take extreme caution and adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Ensure that the airbag is not defective
Faulty airbags are rare, although it could be why you are experiencing a flashing airbag light. To resolve this problem, you should seek professional help for inspection and repair.
Airbags are designed to keep you safe and protected during a collision. When the airbag light keeps illuminating, there could be a problem with the sensors or airbag modules. You should refrain from driving with a flashing airbag light to keep yourself protected if there were to be a collision.
How do I get my airbag light to turn off?
You can get your airbag light to turn off by following these simple procedures.
1. Turn your ignition light on and off.
2. Restart your vehicle and perform a test drive.
3. Examine the passenger airbag switch.
4. Ensure the seatbelts are working correctly.
5. Verify that the passenger seat sensor is not applied.
6. Use a scanner with an airbag light reset option.
7. Fix or replace faulty clock springs.
8. Ensure the airbag is not defective.
Can I still drive with the airbag light on?
It is not safe to drive with a flashing airbag light. When the light is on, it is less likely to deploy during an accident. It is not advisable to drive your car until the airbag system is repaired.
What causes an airbag light to come on?
An airbag light can come up due to several reasons. Faulty sensors, deployed airbag backup batteries, damaged clock springs, and wet airbag modules can trigger the airbag warning light.