car speedometer with abs srs and other symbols

Airbag Sensor Replacement Cost: How Much Should You Expect to Pay?

Airbags are a crucial safety feature of your car. And while you never want to be in a situation where your vehicle’s airbags must be deployed, you do have to ensure they’re in optimal condition at all times. This is where your airbag sensor comes in.

Airbags are one-time-use devices that need to be replaced once deployed. The airbag sensor is essentially a detecting device that reads the vehicle’s rapid deceleration and generates a response, which is the airbag light.

If you see your airbag sensor lights turn on, it’s essential to get it checked out by a mechanic. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of airbags, why you need to get your airbag sensor replaced, and how much it may cost.

What Is An Airbag Sensor And What Does It Do?

car airbag open

Airbags have saved approximately 50,457 lives between 1987 and 2017 – suffice to say they’re integral to ensuring vehicular safety.

And how do they do that?

In case of a crash, airbags and seat belts play fundamental roles in protecting your head and upper body. During a frontal or side-impact crash, they protect the front and side of the driver and the passenger.

Also known as the Supplementary Restraint System or SRS, airbags contain a flexible cushion that inflates on collision. The sensor detects a collision through accelerometers and pressure sensors. It also detects the vehicle’s deceleration and signals the electronic control unit and equipment related to the airbag system.

The sensor also notes the collision’s intensity to determine whether the airbag should be deployed.

Most cars have multiple airbag sensors, including two sensors in the front of your vehicle and the passenger airbag. And the latest vehicles have up to 10 airbag modules.

To know how many your car has, you will have to check your car’s service manual provided by the manufacturer.

So, how does the airbag sensor work?

When a crash occurs, a sensor detects the impact and sends a signal to deploy airbags. On receiving the signal, a chemical reaction ensues that fills the air bag in the blink of an eye.

And as soon as the airbags come in contact with a body, they deflate. So, they provide enough cushioning and never suffocate the occupant.

Signs That Your Airbag Sensor Needs Replacement

There are two signs that you have a bad airbag sensor:

  • The airbag/SRS dash light on your dashboard is on
  • The airbag does not deploy in an accident

The dash light turns on for a few moments after you start the car and goes out automatically. It is a way of self-testing the components of the system. But if the light does not go out and stays lit, the system has detected a problem that will interfere with your airbags deploying properly.

Several factors can cause your sensor light to be turned on. There may be a problem with your airbags, your seat belts may be malfunctioning, or one or more of your sensors may not be working or are faulty.

Sensors can also malfunction over time, and if the mechanic identifies sensors as the reason behind the lit light, they will have to be replaced.

Factors Affecting The Cost Of Airbag Sensor Replacement

car with windshield damage

The cost of air bag crash sensor replacement depends on many factors, including the type and model of your car, where you live, and where you get your car serviced.

1. Car Make and Model

Generally, your car’s type and model will have a huge say in the cost. Cars like Mercedes and BMW have sophisticated systems and advanced sensors, so they are more expensive than cars like Nissan Altima.

High-end manufacturers also use more sensors, which will raise the airbag replacement cost if more sensors need to be replaced.

2. Where You Get the Car Serviced

The shop from where you get your services/repairs done will also affect your final cost. On average, local shops charge less, while company repairs and replacements are charged much higher.

Also, the area where you live and get your repair done will affect the pricing.

3. Time and Labor Involved

The final answer to “How much does it cost to replace an airbag sensor?” will also be determined by the time taken to undertake the replacement and the labor cost.

While airbag crash sensor replacement involves a few parts, it is a sensitive component buried deep in the vehicle’s dashboard. So, depending on the vehicle, diagnosing and replacing an airbag can take between two to eight hours.

Tip To Minimize the Expenses

One way you can try to reduce the cost is by undertaking the replacement task yourself. But this tip only applies to those confident with their car knowledge.

You can use an OBD2 scanner to scan your car for OBD2 codes that can indicate what’s causing the sensor light to turn on. Once you determine the problem, you can then move on to fixing it.

However, note that although you can follow online tutorials and manufacturer’s guidelines, it’s best to get this issue fixed by a mechanic to avoid further problems.

How Much Does It Cost To Replace An Airbag Sensor?

Air bag sensor replacement costs depend on labor, parts, and services.

The mechanic will first run a diagnostic test to determine the sensor that needs replacing. This will take 15-20 minutes and cost around $75-150.

Depending on the model and type, a single sensor costs around $70-$350. The cost will then be calculated based on how many faulty sensors need to be replaced.

You also have to consider the labor cost, which can range from $50 to $100, depending on the labor hours.

So, when visiting a mechanic for sensor replacement, expect to pay around $200-$600.

Now, this is for replacing the airbag sensor, but what if the airbag light is on due to another fault in the system?

The components that may be needed to replace when the airbag light is on and their cost of replacement are:

  • Seat belt and transitioner ($165)
  • Clock spring ($350)
  • Side curtain airbag ($400)
  • Steering wheel airbag ($1000)

Airbag Sensors are Vital to Vehicle Safety

A faulty airbag crash sensor can cost you your life. And that’s not an exaggeration. It’s important to check and replace your sensor if the airbag light remains lit to ensure vehicular safety. The replacement cost will depend on your car type, where you live, from what shop you take the services, and how long it takes to complete the work.

And remember that, sometimes, it may be better to sell your car in its current condition rather than have your airbags/sensors replaced.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you don’t replace a faulty airbag sensor?

If you don’t replace an airbag sensor, you are risking your life and the lives of the passengers. This is because if you meet with a car accident, airbag deployment will not occur, and you are at risk of injury.

Can I replace an airbag sensor myself?

Yes. Replacing airbag sensors is not very difficult. If you are mechanically inclined, you can follow tutorials and guidelines to replace an airbag sensor yourself.

Is it safe to drive with the airbag sensor light on?

A lit airbag sensor light is indicative of a faulty airbag part. This means the airbag system will not work in case of a crash, and airbags will not be deployed. So, driving with the airbag sensor light on is not safe.

How long does it take to replace an airbag sensor?

Replacement of an airbag sensor can take anywhere from two to eight hours. Even though very few parts are involved, the time required is quite high because the sensor is a sensitive component buried deep in the vehicle’s dashboard.


Comments (4)

  1. I have a 2013 Nissan Murano and the passengers seat airbag sensor is on. The dealership want $2500+ to repair. That seems to be robbery!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *