How to Reset Airbag SRS Light: Mechanic-Tested Hacks

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Do you have an airbag srs light on your dashboard? How long has it been on? If the answer is more than 10 minutes, then this article might help you. 

We will cover how to reset airbag srs light using mechanic-tested steps that are guaranteed to work for any vehicle make or model. 

What is an airbag warning light?

The airbag indicator light describes a malfunction with the SRS system.

The airbag indicator light describes a malfunction with the SRS system.

How do airbags work?

broken windshield and a deployed airbag behind it

When the airbag sensors detect an impending accident caused by a sudden acceleration or deceleration. Next, the SRS system will signal the release of the airbags when it detects a collision.

Airbags commonly use sodium azide, which releases inert and harmless nitrogen or argon gas when ignited with a spark triggered by a collision. This force reaches and increases the airbag, thereby protecting the driver on all sides. 

Without an airbag, serious injuries happen when you get into a head-on collision. However, an airbag doesn't also assure your safety.

Symptoms

  • Airbag SRS light on the dashboard

Causes

  • Malfunctioning airbag clock strings
  • Damaged SRS module
  • Faulty airbag sensor
  • Wet airbag module

Is the airbag SRS light serious?

Yes. The airbag light warning signals you to fix it, so it is safe to drive your vehicle. While the airbag may still deploy even if the warning light is on, do not be complacent. Protect yourself and your passenger at all times in case there is a crash.

How can I reset the airbag SRS light?

a mechanic repairing the airbag

Replace the malfunctioning airbag clock strings

  • Make sure that your wheel is straight and that the steering wheel is aligned forward.
  • Disconnect the negative battery cable and leave it to allow the capacitor discharge.
  • Open the airbag compartment by unscrewing the screws that hold it.
  • Pull the airbag out and remove the connectors. You can move the steering wheel to the left and right so you can remove the connectors easier.
  • Lock the steering wheel. Mark the steering wheel's position and the steering column with two strips of painter's tape for reference to its alignment.
  • Loosen the steering wheel nut but don't take it out completely. Remove the wheel and the nut so you can see the clock spring.
  • Remove the clock spring and replace it with a new one. Bend the tab on the new clock spring until it breaks.
  • Replace the steering wheel using the reference painter's tape.
  • Tighten the steering column using the specified torque. Use a torque wrench.
  • Replace the connectors, the airbag, and the cover of the airbag compartment.
  • Reconnect your battery. Your airbag warning light should be off now.

Replace the airbag sensor

airbag steering wheel clock spring and connectors

  • Use your OBD2 scanner to determine if the trouble code is from the faulty airbag sensor. 
  • You can also disconnect and reconnect your car's battery to erase its ECU memory and reset the airbag warning light. However, this will only solve the warning light for a while, but not the real issue. 
  • If your airbag sensor is faulty, disconnect the battery before working on your airbag to prevent accidental deployment. 
  • Once you have located the airbag sensor, test it with a multimeter to see if it works. Check your manual's recommended current output for the airbag sensor, but generally, it should not exceed 10mA.
  • Open the airbag compartment, and disconnect the electrical connections based on your vehicle's manual. 
  • Take out the faulty sensor and replace it with a new one.
  • Reinstall the airbag compartment and complete the process by reconnecting the battery.

Replace the SRS module

If your SRS module is faulty or damaged from flooding, you need to replace it to eliminate the airbag light on your dashboard. However, you may need the help of a professional mechanic for this work since it will entail reprogramming your vehicle identification number (VIN) after installing a new SRS module.

  • Locate your SRS module, then get its part number, usually a 10-digit alphanumeric code, that you can find on the upper side of the module.

How much does it cost to replace the airbag sensor?

usual location of airbags

The modern system for SRS often comprises multiple detectors. Those sensor replacement costs are everywhere. Expect somewhere between $230-350. 

Remember that an SRS light does not always indicate a poor airbag sensor. Get an expert car diagnostic to help determine the leading cause and correct the problem on the alert light.

Airbag SRS FAQ

An airbag accidentally deploying

Can I reset the airbag light without a tool?

If you don't have an OBD scan tool, you can still reset your airbag light by disconnecting the car battery terminals. You may find some corrosion on the battery. If you do, spray them with an electronic cleaner and wipe them off with a clean rag.

Reconnect the battery and restart your car. However, we only recommend this hack if you have already repaired your airbag.

What causes the SRS light to stay on?

The module is the center of airbags in the system. Generally known as the RCM or SIDM, the module always has the same primary function: the control system airbag operation. 

If a diagnostic error occurs, the device activates the warning light and stores a related Diagnostic Trouble Code in memory. A further way to disable the system is to disable the airbag system if you fix the issue. 

Can I drive my car with the airbag light on?

Yes. Although if you get into an accident, the airbag won't deploy and may cause serious injuries. An airbag SRS light is a serious warning that you should address immediately.

How do I prevent accidental airbag deployment?

Some vehicles are notorious for accidental airbag deployment. It includes the Mazda 5 models from 2008 and onwards, the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the 2012 Adi A6 sedan, to mention a few.

If you're usually driving alone, you can disable the passenger and the backseat airbags. A light below your dash will alert you if you disable these airbags so you can enable them back if you have passengers.

However, if you're not sure about it, always check with your trusted mechanic. Airbags may protect the driver and the passenger, but they can also be dangerous, so move with caution when dealing with airbags.

Will disconnecting the battery reset the airbag light?

Yes, especially if you're dealing with an older car. Disconnecting the battery will also prevent your airbag from deploying inside your vehicle. Remember that you cannot fix a deployed airbag; you need to replace it. Unfortunately, it can range from $1000 to $1500 for each airbag replacement.

Conclusion

We hope this article has helped you reset your airbag SRS light. Let us know when was the last time you encountered this trouble code or other airbag codes and what you did differently this time after reading this blog.