Did your airbag light pop up on your dashboard, and you now want to know how to reset it?
The engine and airbag lights are some of the dashboard lights you need to pay extra attention to if they show up, especially the airbag light due to its safety importance.
Airbags are designed to inflate in an accident or crash, but when the airbag light is on, this will not happen. But how do you reset an airbag light, and can you do it without a scanner? Let’s find out!
How do airbags work?
So before we look at how to reset the airbag light, you should know how the whole system works.
Airbags are lifesavers when you are speeding and hit another car head-on or hit a stationary object. If you do not have an airbag, you could hit your head hard on the steering wheel or dashboard. When you hit something at high speed, your car will decelerate, and this will activate an accelerometer that triggers the airbag circuit.
The airbag circuit has a heating element activated through an electric current. This heating element promotes an explosion inside the airbag that rapidly generates a harmless gas. Most airbags use sodium azide as the explosive element, and the gas produced can either be argon or nitrogen. This gas floods the airbag and causes it to expand; hence, protecting the driver from injuries by occupying the steering wheel and the side. The airbag acts as a cushion.
How to reset the airbag light with a scanner
Now that we know how airbags operate, it is time to learn how to reset the airbag light.
All work done to the airbag system should be done by professionals if you are not 100% sure of what you are doing! Follow these steps to reset the airbag light:
Total Time: 1 hour
Step 1: Check the passenger airbag switch
Some cars have a “passenger seat Airbag on/off button.” This is the first thing you should check when you want to remove the airbag light. Maybe someone before you turned it to “Off” by mistake – this will make the airbag light stay on in most cars.
This button is usually on the dashboard on the passenger side, and you may see it if you open the passenger door or the glove box.
Step 2: Read the trouble codes with an OBD2 Scanner
Working with your airbag system is crucial. You should always read the trouble codes with an OBD2 scanner to get an idea of where to start your troubleshooting. Never clear the trouble codes before you fix the problem caused by the airbag light. Read the codes and get information about what can cause the problem and continue the diagnosis.
Step 3: Repair the fault
You should never just reset the airbag light without repairing the problem. This can deploy the airbags or prevent them from functioning if an accident occurs. Let a professional replace the airbag’s parts if you are not sure how to do it. Remember always to remove the battery connection when working with airbags. The airbag light will often go away by itself after repairing the problem, but not in all car models.
Step 4: Clear the trouble codes
After you have installed the new parts and are 100% sure that the parts are installed correctly, it’s time to reset the engine light. To do this, you need to use an OBD2 scanner. There is no other way to reset. Reset the airbag light and make sure that it has disappeared from the dashboard. If it is still there, reread the codes and check for any trouble codes.
Step 5: Restart your car & test-drive.
If the airbag light seems to have gone away from your dashboard, restart your ignition and go for a test drive. If the airbag light is gone after a test drive, there is a big chance that the problem has been solved. If the problem comes back, reread the codes and continue the procedure.
How to reset the airbag light without a scanner
It is impossible in most car models to reset the airbag light without a scanner. This is for safety reasons, because you should always repair the fault after the airbag light has come on. Luckily, in many car models, the airbag light will also go away by itself if you have repaired the problem.
In some older cars, though, it is possible to reset the airbag light without a scanner by removing the car battery terminals.
Check the wiring system underneath the driver or passenger seat for any loose wires or corrosion in the connector plug. Spray the connector plugs with an electronic cleaner and restart your car.
If you can not find any problems there, you should really get an OBD2 scanner or let a workshop read the codes; otherwise, you will be taking a stab in the dark when you try to guess the problem.
What happens if you pull the airbag fuse?
If you pull the fuse to the airbag control module, it will disable the airbag function in your car after 1-2 minutes. However, it won’t remove the airbag light as you might expect. If the dash does not receive a signal from the airbag module, it will illuminate the airbag warning light.
How can I bypass the airbag light?
You can bypass the airbag light or the airbag parts by bridging them with resistors. However, we strongly recommend fixing the issues instead, because if you’re in a serious accident, you’ll probably wish the airbag function was working.
How much does it cost to reset the airbag light?
Resetting the airbag light can cost anywhere from $0 to $1000. It all depends on what is causing the airbag light. If the problem was only temporary, it might be enough to simply reset the codes, which can be done for free. It can also be caused by an expensive faulty part like the steering angle sensor, which can cost you over $1000.
Does disconnecting the battery disable the airbag?
Yes and no. Airbag systems have large capacitors that will store energy in the system for a while even if you remove the battery cable. However, this energy is often drained within minutes.
To reset an airbag or SRS light, you need to use a diagnostic scanner to clear the codes after you repair the issue. In most modern cars, there is no way to reset the airbag light without a scanner.
If you clear the codes, but the airbag light keeps coming back on, there is a problem that needs to be fixed first. You should never attempt to reset the airbag light without correcting the problem first, because this could cause the airbags to deploy.
Now you know how to handle the airbag light. You may understand the safety importance when working on airbags or SRS systems in a car. If you feel that you don’t have the knowledge to work on airbag systems, take it to a mechanic and have them run a diagnostic test.