You might wonder why you need to locate your vehicle’s airbag control module. The main reason is that the vehicle’s airbag light indicator is on your dashboard, which can be troublesome. This indicates an issue with your restraint system and could occur simply as a result of faulty wiring or, more critically, a result of the vehicle being in an accident.
This article will help you understand where the airbag module is in your car and what you need to do if your indicator light is on.
What Does the Airbag Module Do?
The airbag control module is responsible for more than one function. It controls your vehicle’s airbag deployment, stores crash data, and exchanges information with your engine. This is a critical component of the overall safety of you and your passengers inside the car. Without a fully functioning airbag control module, your vehicle’s airbag might not deploy when needed.
But how do you know if your airbag control module is functioning correctly? At some point in time, you may have noticed your airbag indicator light coming on in your vehicle’s dashboard. You can see this indicator briefly every time you start your engine. The common reasons for the indicator light appearing on your dashboard include airbags deployed, a faulty seat belt pretensioner, faulty airbag clockspring, crash sensor faults, and wiring harness problems. While these aren’t the only causes, they make up the majority of cases of why your airbag light has come on.
What Do I Do When My Indicator Light is On?
So now your indicator light is on. How do you know if you need to reset your airbag control module? It is essential to understand that two sets of codes can be ‘written’ to your control module: soft codes and hard codes.
Soft codes occur with minor issues like faulty wires or communication between your vehicle’s airbag system and the control module. In these instances, you can use an OBD scan tool to search for the underlying cause of the light. These scanning tools can be purchased online for less than $100 and will be helpful if you have other vehicle issues. Once your vehicle is scanned and diagnosed, a technician can help repair the underlying cause of the indicator light.
What Are Hard Codes Versus Soft Codes?
When you get into a collision, your module will store crash data, known as hard code. Hard codes are different from soft codes in that they will lock your control module, preventing you from resetting your indicator light with an OBD scanner. At this point, you will not be able to use your OBD scanner to reset your vehicle’s airbag indicator light. Even specialized mechanics and your dealer cannot reset your indicator light.
Do I Have to Reset My Indicator Light?
You need peace of mind every time you start your vehicle. Watching any indicator light appear on your dashboard can be stressful. Further, if you are attempting to sell your car, the buyer would certainly have concerns about the vehicle’s safety. Let’s put it this way: if your engine warning light, tire pressure light, or check oil light suddenly came on, you likely wouldn’t ignore them. The same logic should apply to your airbag indicator.
Where is the Airbag Module Located?
The module is located under the center console between the two front seats in most vehicle makes and models. The control module looks like a small box with a metal casing and several ports that could be plugged into it. A search online will reveal where your particular vehicle’s airbag control module is located and what it looks like.
It’s always advisable that a knowledgeable technician removes your module, but if you feel comfortable doing it yourself, we recommend the following steps:
Disconnect the negative terminal of your vehicle’s battery and wait 10 minutes before proceeding. You must remove the trim to your center console in most makes and models. Once you have located the module, unbolt and unplug it from the wire harness or airbag plugs.
Why Do You Need to Reset Your Control Module?
Most likely, you need to reset your airbag control module after you’ve been in an accident. Even minor fender benders can cause your module to act up, and if it’s not taken care of, you run the risk of a compromised safety system the next time you need it.
If possible, resetting your airbag control module is preferable to replacing it – especially if you’re paying for this work out of pocket versus making an insurance claim. Replacement air bag modules can cost up to, and often beyond, $1000. They are expensive because of the complex communication between your vehicle and your control module. Additionally, dealers are required to associate your VIN with your new control module. You’re paying for their administrative time, labor, and parts.
Many repair shops offer module reset services. Sometimes, you can reset your module through the mail (don’t drive your car without it). During a reset service, a technician will remove the crash data and reprogram your module to factory settings. No more airbag indicator lights!
The Bottom Line: Where Is The Airbag Module Located In Your Car?
Hopefully, you feel more knowledgeable about your airbag control module, its location, and what it does. This is an essential technology in your car’s safety system; if it’s acting up, it deserves your attention.
If you see your airbag indicator light on and are ever in doubt about how to proceed, contact Safety Restore. We’re here to help keep your vehicle’s safety system running to its full potential keeping you safe on the roads.