When a light comes on your dashboard, you should check it to make sure everything is working right. Have you noticed that the light for the airbag won’t turn off? Your airbag light is the same way; it’s one of the most important lights on your dashboard.
But what does it mean and what can you do to fix it? Just keep reading, and we’ll explain everything.
Airbag Light Normal Operation
When you start your car, all of the dash lights should come on for five to seven seconds and then go out. This is perfectly normal, and it means that all of the electronics in your car have gone through an internal check and passed.
When one of these lights stays on, that’s when there’s a problem. When one of the lights stays on and might flash at first to try to get your attention, it means that the internal system check has failed.
Also, if your airbag light doesn’t come on when you start your car, you have a problem. The bulb may be burned out or missing, but you can’t tell if your airbags work without the dashboard light.
What Your Airbag Light Tells You
The most important thing to know is that if your airbag light is on, you don’t have any airbags. Not that they aren’t in your car, but because a part failed the system check, your car has turned them off.
Even if the problem is small, if your airbag light is on and you get into an accident, your airbags won’t go off. It makes sense, because a broken part could cause your airbag to go off when it doesn’t need to, which could be very dangerous. That’s why it’s important to fix the problem at its source.
Other than that, you’ll have to have the code read to find out exactly what the problem is. If you take your car to a store that sells parts, like AutoZone or O’Reilly’s, they will read the code for free.
5 Most Common Reasons for a Flashing Airbag Light
There are many things that could have caused your airbag light to come on, but some are much more likely than others.
Defective or broken clock spring
One of the most common reasons for an airbag light to come on is a broken or broken clock spring. Unfortunately, this is also one of the most expensive things to fix. Most of the time, just the part for a clockspring costs $300, and the labour is another $100. That means that if your car’s clock spring breaks, it will cost you about $400 to get it fixed.
If you want to change it yourself, you’ll need a steering wheel puller and a pretty big socket. If you don’t do a lot of work on cars, you probably won’t have what you need. But you can often rent these tools from different stores that sell parts.
When putting in the new clock spring, you must also be very careful and follow all of the instructions from the manufacturer. If you don’t do it right, it will probably break right away, and you’ll be right back where you started.
Passenger seat sensor defective or applied
If you have a big box or other container in the passenger seat, it could be setting off the sensor and making the airbag light come on. If this happens, you can either take the heavy thing out of the passenger seat or put the seatbelt on the passenger.
If putting on the seatbelt fixes the problem, you know that the sensor was touched, which is why the light was on. But if there is nothing in the passenger seat and putting on the seat belt turns off the airbag light, the passenger seat sensor is broken.
This sensor can tell if someone is in the passenger seat. If they are sitting there without a seatbelt, the passenger airbag will not work. If putting on the seatbelt turns off the light, you can either always drive with the seatbelt on or replace the sensor.
Seat belts not fastened or sensors not working properly
If you’re not wearing a seatbelt, many cars will turn off your airbag for you. Even though these sensors don’t break down very often, sometimes something can stop them from working right. Spare change is one of the most common things that can mess up seat belt sensors.
If this change falls into the fastener and gets between the sensor and the buckle, it won’t be able to tell that it’s fastened, even if it is. If you think your airbag light is on because of a broken seatbelt sensor, look inside the buckle to see what you can see before you replace it.
Most of the time, the job isn’t too expensive, but if the sensor is built into the seatbelt and can’t be replaced separately, it could cost you $200.
Airbag sensors defective
It’s not the most common problem, but it doesn’t happen very often either. Sensors are just simple electrical parts, so if they are exposed to the weather, they can rust and corrode, which can cause them to break.
Your airbag only works when both of its sensors are closed. If one of them breaks, you don’t have to worry about the airbag going off. But it will turn off the system, leaving you without any protection.
Getting an airbag sensor replaced usually costs between $250 and $350, and unless you are an expert mechanic, you should let the pros do it.
It is very rare for the airbags themselves to be broken. Because they are so important to safety, manufacturers take extra care to make sure they last long, work well, and are safe. Still, it’s not unheard of for airbags to be broken, even though it doesn’t happen often.
If your airbag is broken and it’s not because of a recall, it will cost a lot to fix, but you shouldn’t put it off. Most of the time, just the bag to replace the airbag costs around $400, but it can be as low as $200 or as high as $1,000.
The most important thing that affects the cost of labour to replace an airbag is which airbag is broken. The easiest airbags to change are the ones on the driver’s side, and you can expect to pay around $100 for labour.
But side airbags and even passenger airbags can be harder to replace, which is why labour costs can be as high as $1,000. The average cost to replace an airbag is $3,000, but if you only need to replace the front airbag on the driver’s side, you can expect to pay about $1,000.
Since the price is so high, you might be thinking about putting off the replacement. The problem is that you never know when the airbag will go off if it is broken. You have a broken airbag, and your car is trying to keep you safe by turning it off. All it would take to set it off while you’re driving is a static charge.
How to Fix/Reset Your Airbag Light
Once you’ve fixed the problem part, the airbag light will go out. It’s easy to reset the airbag light. Sometimes they reset themselves, and sometimes you have to do it. The safest way to do this is with a scan tool, but sometimes just taking out the batteries will do the trick.
But unlike check engine lights, which can be reset by taking the battery out for a few minutes, airbags have their own backup batteries. This can make it hard to turn the light off and on again by cutting the circuit.
Keep an Eye Out for Recalls
Airbags are one of the parts of a car that are often recalled. If you put your name on the registration for your car, the DMV should send you recall notices directly. To be sure, you can enter your vehicle’s VIN on the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration’s website to see if it has any open recalls. This is especially important if you bought a used car because you wouldn’t have known about any recalls in the past.
Realistically, you should check for recalls on your car every time you change the oil or do other regular maintenance, so that any problems don’t go unnoticed.
Since they were invented in 1971, airbags have saved thousands of lives. In some states, it is the law that your car must have a working SRS system. Even though fixing parts of the SRS system can be expensive, the safety features they provide are well worth the cost.
Don’t put off fixing your airbag; take it to a parts store to get the code read and a diagnosis, and fix it as soon as you can. It’s just not worth the risk to drive without an active airbag.