car dashboard with light on

Why Is My Service Airbag Light On? Common Causes and Solutions

If you looked up this article immediately after finding your service airbag light on, you did the right thing. And if you’re simply researching for the future, even better! Airbags are crucial in vehicular safety, so if your service airbag light turns on, you should not take it lightly.

When your service airbag light turns on, it can mean many things, all of which point to a malfunctioning airbag deployment system. This could put you and your loved ones at risk due to airbag failure in an accident.

This article examines why your service airbag light may be on and the next steps you should take if you notice this worrying occurrence.

Understanding the Service Airbag Light

car meter with airbag light on

The service airbag light is one of the three warning lights on your dashboard. This light turns on when your car diagnostics detect a problem with your airbag system. Depending on the vehicle model, this light can be an icon, a code, or a text warning.

The airbag warning light indicates a problem with the airbag system and warns of airbag deployment failure in case of accidents. And until you address this issue, this warning light may stay on, keep blinking, or go on and off every time you start the vehicle.

Driving your vehicle when the service airbag light is on is ill-advised and dangerous. You shouldn’t drive your car until a certified mechanic has resolved the issue.

And to do this, your mechanic will first need to detect the cause behind your car’s service airbag light turning on.

Common Causes of Service Airbag Light

While there are plenty of reasons for your service airbag warning light to turn on, here are the most common ones.

1. Faulty Sensors

Faulty sensors are a common cause of service airbag lights going on. This can happen after a minor crash in which the crash sensors were triggered, but the airbags didn’t deploy.

Airbag sensors aren’t developed for multi-use, so they’re fairly sensitive. They must be replaced after any minor or major accident.

2. Loose Connections

Bad wiring, loose connections, and computer system faults are some other common causes that can result in service airbag lights turning on. It can happen due to general wear and tear or corrosion over time.

3. Malfunctioning Airbag Control Module

The airbag control module receives information from all of your crash sensors. When it malfunctions, your safety systems cannot work correctly and may not even detect the crash!

These systems are located under the driver’s or passenger side seats. They’re likely to malfunction due to high moisture content or corrosion from water exposure.

4. Issues With the Airbag Clockspring

A worn-out airbag clock spring can also cause your service airbag light to turn on.

The purpose of an airbag clock spring is to maintain the electrical connection between the vehicle and the driver-side airbag. So, whenever you use the steering wheel, the clockspring coils and uncoils.

This constant action can wear out the airbag clockspring and make it less effective at deploying airbags, thus increasing the risk of airbag failure.

Solutions for Service Airbag Light

car system warning to check airbag system

While educating yourself about how your vehicle works is necessary, it’s also important to note that only a certified mechanic can resolve the service airbag light issue. This is not something you should try DIY-ing your way through.

Here are some solutions that a mechanic will typically employ:

Resetting the System

Resetting the system is a must, regardless of which problems are causing your service airbag light to turn on. It involves resetting and reprogramming the SRS computer system. And if the SRS module is damaged, it must be replaced.

Checking and Repairing Faulty Sensors or Connections

This involves going through the components of the airbag system to tighten loose connections, repair damaged wiring, replace malfunctioning sensors, etc.

Replacing the Airbag Control Module

If the airbag control module is corroded or corrupt, replacing the module is impossible. Your mechanic will also need to configure the airbag module for your vehicle.

Replacing the Airbag Clockspring

Before replacing the clock spring, your service mechanic will use a scan tool to confirm that the clock spring is causing the airbag warning light. Once confirmed, they can proceed to replace it.

Prevention and Maintenance Tips

When you’re already late for work or other commitments, you want to avoid an unexpected repair or servicing. And while not all breakdowns are foreseeable, here are some ways to avoid the ones that are.

Regular Inspections

Your vehicle is full of parts and systems that keep the car running without your notice. To work correctly, they need to be inspected and serviced regularly.

Ideally, you want to get your vehicle inspected by a mechanic at least 1-2 times a year.

Prompt Addressing of Warning Lights

Keeping driving your car without resolving the problem causing your service airbag light to turn on isn’t safe. When you see this light turn on, you want to stop driving your car immediately and call a tow service to take your vehicle to the nearest service center.

Proper Handling and Maintenance of the Vehicle’s Airbag System

Proper usage guidelines should keep your vehicle’s airbag system in good shape. Here are some you want to remember:

  • Avoid using steam cleaners on your seats
  • Never place sharp objects near an airbag or on the seat
  • Avoid placing heavy items on the passenger seat
  • Service airbags immediately if the SRS warning light goes on

And remember, don’t attempt to replace/repair components yourself, as it can compromise the integrity of your vehicle’s safety systems.

Why You Should Not Ignore a Service Airbag Light

From faulty and corroded parts to loose connections and wiring trouble, a lot can cause the service airbag light to turn on. But regardless of the cause, a service airbag light turning on indicates a problem with your vehicle’s Supplemental Restraint System.

And the best call you can take when that happens is towing your vehicle to a nearby service center so you can get it serviced and ensure your car is working safely.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if the service airbag light comes on?

You should stop driving your vehicle and have it towed to a nearby service center if the service airbag light comes on.

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

No, it isn’t. Driving with the service airbag light increases the risk of airbag failure. It can put the occupants of that vehicle at risk of injury in case of an accident.

Can I fix the service airbag light issue myself?

Unless you’re a certified mechanic, you’re not equipped to fix the service airbag issue.

How much does it cost to fix the service airbag light?

Fixing the service airbag light can cost between $100 and $600. This includes the cost of sensors, labor charges, etc.


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