drive with airbag light

Is It Safe to Drive With the Airbag Light on?

In Airbag by Magnus Sellén44 Comments

You are starting your car, and suddenly the airbag light appears on your instrument cluster.

You are wondering if you can continue to drive your car, but what will happen if you get into an accident with the airbag light ON?

In this article, you will get the answer to that, and we will discuss how an airbag works and you will learn if you can fix it yourself at home or you have to let a mechanic repair it.

Is It Safe to Drive With the Airbag Light on?

It is not safe to drive with the airbag light ON. When the light is on, it means that there is a problem with the airbag system. When there is a problem with the system, it will not deploy the airbags at all in an accident. It is always recommended to repair the problem as soon as possible. If your airbags are not functional in a crash, it may cause death or serious injuries.

airbag light

When your airbag light appears on your instrument cluster, it means that there is an error in your airbag system. It could be anything from a damaged airbag, broken wires, bad connections or a faulty control unit. To find the problem, the easiest way is to check the trouble code memory is with an OBD2 scanner.

If you have an error in your airbag control unit, your airbag will not work in a collision. When an error occurs, the airbag control unit shuts the whole function for your safety. It is because the airbag system is susceptible.

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That is because you do not want the airbags to blow in your face in a false alarm because of a broken wire or a bad connection. A false alarm airbag explosion may cause serious injuries to you if there is not an accident.

It will not damage any further parts in the airbag system or do any other damage to your car, but it can for sure cause serious injuries to you!

How does the airbag know when an accident occurs?

airbag crash

Your airbag system contains a control unit, several sensors, and several airbags. You usually have crash sensors in the front and the sides of the car; some vehicles have more than others. When a crash sensor is triggered, it sends the signal to the airbag control unit.

The airbag control unit then sends a signal to the airbags inside your car, and tells them that there is an accident and they get triggered and explode. All of this happens in milliseconds; pretty impressive.

What is the most common problem if my airbag light is on?

The most common problem if your airbag is ON is a bad connection inside any connector. The airbag control unit has minimal tolerance, and a bad connection will trigger the airbag light, and it will shut off the system. Usually, the airbag control unit ihas a tolerance of 3-5 ohms; if you have a bit of corrosion in a connection, you will get over 5 ohms, and the light is triggered.

The most common problem is the plug connector under any of the front seats. The plug moves slightly forward and backward when you are pushing the car seat back and forward often, and it will cause bad connections. Usually, it is enough to spray a bit of electric cleaner in the plug and plug it back.

But you should always read the trouble code memory with an OBD2 DTC reader when your airbag light occurs. With airbag systems, you will often get a particular code.

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Is it safe to work with the airbag system at home?

As long as the airbag light is ON and there is an error code stored, the airbags will not blow-up in your face. But you should always remove the battery connection when you are working with your airbag just in case. You should still be very careful when you are working with your airbag system repairs.

You should always do the recommended repairs from you repair manuals. You do not want to impliment incorrect solutions, and it could eventually trigger the airbag when you are out driving, and you do not want it to blow-up. If you are a bit familiar with car electrics, you can fix it yourself if you do it with caution.

Will my airbag/SRS light disappear by itself when I’ve fixed the problem?

No, the airbag control system is designed so that you have to erase the trouble code manually before the airbag light goes away. This is for safety purposes as I wrote before. To delete the trouble code, you have to use an OBD2 scanner.

You have to use an OBD2 scanner that can search through the airbag system on your car. The cheaper OBD2 scanners will only read the engine control unit, and you have to get a more expensive scanner that is compatible with your vehicle if you want to do it yourself at home. You could also let a mechanic remove the trouble code, and it will usually just take 1 minute or two.


  • When your airbag light is ON – Your airbag function will not work.
  • The airbag control unit often triggers an error code because of bad connections.
  • A common cause is a bad connection in the plug under your front seats.
  • You can repair it yourself if you are familiar with car electronics and you are careful and read the repair manuals.
  • Always remove the battery when you are working with your airbag system, and make proper repairs according to your repair manual recommendations.
  • You have to erase the trouble codes after any replacements for the light to go off.
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If you have any other questions about how the airbag system works or how you can repair it, you can comment below, and I will answer your questions as fast as possible. If you have any other car questions, you can ask them for free at our homepage.

If you want to find more dashboard signs, you can check out the article Dashboard Warning Lights.

44 thoughts on “ Is It Safe to Drive With the Airbag Light on? ”

    1. Author

      @Yohanes negash If the “Airbag Off” light is on, check on the passenger side if there is a switch to turn the airbag on and off on the passenger side.

      Else, you have to read the trouble codes from the airbag control unit to locate the problem.

      1. Hello my airbag light kept flashing , on my Suzuki swift, but my seat belt alarm has stopped beeping now.. The air bag alarm has stopped flashing up PASS…don’t know what PASS means anyway….Can you tell me why my seat belt alarm dont come on anymore and should my air bag red light be off when i drive as it is now off when driving ..

    2. 2009 Nissan Rouge hit the car in front and driver side airbag deployed now vehicle is in limp mode,my question is how do u get it out of limp mode.It want take any gear and engine will not rave up

      1. I have a 2003 buick lesabre and the airbag light stays on and flashes. Im afraid to drive for fear of it deploying. Plus dashboard covering is separating.

  1. When it rain water is on passenger side in back on floor .airbag light just came on last night is this car safe to drive

    1. Author

      I would check for any water or corrosion on wires or wire plugs to crash sensor and airbag control unit. Check the trouble codes with an obd2 scanner is my best suggestion!

    2. Yes i have same problem my car got flooded durin storm front passenger footwell been 8 months now since drivin it still still drives

  2. Could the airbags explode by themselves when the Srs light comes on without being in an accident? Just by turning the car on and driving it?

    1. Author

      @Carmen When the airbag light is on, The airbags will not explode. If you erase the trouble codes when the fault still occurs, they can explode if you are very unlucky.

  3. My light is blinking. It isn’t staying on steadily nor is it blinking in any type of code. It is a steady blink. I’m aware that the airbags would not work in the case of an accident but I’m concerned that they may malfunction and go off randomly. I have tried scanning it as well as a few mechanics I know however none of the readers can read an airbag code. Shy of going to a Nissan dealership and spending tons of money for them to read it…which I can’t afford right now…I don’t know what else to do. I had disconnected the battery to reset it which seemed to work for a day or so then back to blinking. I have one of those kill switch things that the dealership put on in case of missed payments and it seems to have caused alot of electrical issues. Of course they say that they can’t do anything about it because it is a requirement of the finance company and no warranty on the vehicle itself. I just want to make sure that the airbags won’t randomly go off with it blinking like that and can’t seem to get an answer.

    1. Author

      If you can’t reach communication with the airbag control unit with any scanner while the light is blinking, it’s most likely a problem with the control unit or the wires (CAN BUS). While the problem occurs, you have to measure the power, ground and the CAN Bus to the airbag control unit. However, this is pretty advanced troubleshooting to do.

      If your airbag is flashing or light up on your dashboard, the airbag won’t deploy in case of an accident. You do not have to worry about deploying randomly as long as the light is flashing. If the light is flashing or light up, the function is completely turned off.
      I would advise you to look around for a smaller automotive electronics workshop. If your car is pretty new, ask Nissan if there is any warranty left.

    2. I got a 2010 Impala on on my dash it say service air bags and my car is starting to make
      whining noise like power steering pump

  4. I had an accident on Sunday and I t-boned the car. My airbag didn’t deploy but the light is on. Firemen were surprised airbag didn’t deploy from the contact. I have a 2016 Honda Accord Sport

    1. Author

      If the light was on before the accident, the airbags should not deploy. If it’s on now, you have to read the codes with a scanner and either erase it or fix the problem if there is any. You may also see crash data in the trouble codes.

  5. 2011 Infinity G37-Passenger air bag light blinking. Took it to dealer and they told me it is a sensor in the seat which requires a new seat to fix. $6,000 for a new seat. Dealer told me that the sensor was there to detect if someone was in the passenger seat and without repairing it the airbag would go off regardless. Reading your article above you seem to indicate the air bag will NOT deploy in an accident regardless if someone is in the passenger seat or not. Am I understanding this correctly? Appreciate your input

    1. Author

      @PDR Yes, I have never heard of any car that would deploy the airbags with the lights on. However, for the seat indicator, you can often install a resistor with the correct ohm’s instead of the seat sensor if you are short of money.

  6. Airbag light on M.O.T failure so waiting for garage report and likely cost to correct fault. Still not bad 14 yrs old Peugeot Partner combie only major fault to repair front springs one broke and had both replacesd.
    What’s best to clean off adhesive of the headlight deflectors I have to put on each year visitng family in France. Plastic lenses rule out any abrasive type cleaner.

    And thank you Magnus for creating this website. ( I live in UK )

    1. Author

      Have you checked out the Valet Pro Glue? This with a Tar remover should do the trick. You can also do it with hot water in a lot of cases!

    2. Desolvit citrus based glue remover is great for that sort of job

    3. Hi I’m having trouble with my srs airbag light on my Ford Explorer 2016 sport and I want to erase it how can I fix this problem

  7. I bought a 2004 chevy tahoe but the air bag on the driving wheel it’ was open like they just opened and glued again. Do you have any idea why is it like that?

    1. Author

      I would replace this one if you are unsure. It could probably be a technical service bulletin to fix something in the airbag, but I doubt it. If you are worried, replace it! If it doesn’t work properly in an accident, it may cause serious injuries.

  8. when I wash the underside my air bag light comes on then 3 or 4 hours later after car dries out light goes out

    1. Author

      It sounds like you have a faulty wiring harness around the floor of the car. Under the seats you do normally have crash/acceleration sensor on the floor and this may be your problem when the water is pouring inside of the vehicle.

  9. My Toyota 2011 Camry’s airbag indicator will flash and stay for a few seconds and then disappear after I turn on the ignition. is this normal? also, I see on the indicator of both airbag OFF and ON, flashing and then disappear. The off is the driver’s seat. On in the passenger seat. should I take it to the mechanic to check?

  10. Magnus, my uncle has a 2015 Nissan Altima that had an accident in the driver side and the curtain airbag deployed. The shop that fixed it just cut away the curtain bag and his airbag light stays on. He is not going to fix the airbag. My question is, if the airbag light is on, will the seat belts still hold us in an accident? Thank you sir!

  11. I have a 2004 Mazda tribute and my horn is pushed in on one side my air bag light flashes than states on .can I pop it out

  12. 2005 Mercury Marquis Airbag light shows code 33. What is error code 33

    1. I have a Tiguan, almost 2 weeks ago it was a very very hot day of 45°.
      I had got out of my car to go shopping after travelling approx 100kms in high temps.
      When I returned to my car I turned key and steering wheel turned down to the right as I was reversing out of park.
      Something clicked in the steering wheel and then I noticed this airbag symbol.
      Perhaps something I’ve told you may make sense.
      My question is, do most mechanics have an OBD2 scanner?
      What would a service like this usually cost to repair and turn off light or how long would this take to repair please. My car is a 2012 model

    2. I hit a median in my 2011 Mini Cooper and the airbag light came on. The car seems to drive ok. Is it safe to drive it 15 miles to my mechanic?

  13. I hit a deer with the side of my car the damage looks minimal but the air bad light came on and the screen in the car says service air bag. There was also a burning smell inside the car. Is it safe to drive?

  14. I have a 2012 Jetta GLI. Dash lit up like Christmas tree today. ABS, a pic of my steering wheel, a flashing exclamation point, and the airbag light. All are staying on (except the flashing exclamation point). I’m most worried about the airbag light. Do you think it can deploy w/o a impact? A random deployment while I’m driving could be really bad. I just dont have the cash to get this looked at right now. Thanks for any input.

  15. my wife CAR infinity qx60 2017 Stepped up the sidewalk
    bricks ( the right side wheels ) passenger side
    on speed 30 to 40 km.
    and the side airbag deployed
    with no major damage only RH WHEEL & TIRE BUST IMPACT.
    no passengers


  16. Hi l have a holden Barina xc 2004 model my airbag light is staying on . Scanner code first said passinger seat belt retentioner which i replaced. The scanner now says the airbag control sensor not sending. Can you please let me know where the control sensor is located + do you think this is the problem. Billy

  17. I removed the airbag system from my car to take the steering wheel off. After putting it back together, the airbag light is now on. Is it possibly just a faulty connection or might I have broken the clock spring?

  18. Hi I have a VW Polo 1.6 and my airbag light came on, I took it to VW for a diagnoses and they indicated that the front left seat airbag is damaged/deployed. I took it to someone to replace the airbag but they only cancelled the error code and the light on the dash board.

    Will this affect the other airbags from being deployed if in an accident, can you please let me know what could happen. I will replace the airbag but its very expensive to do so now.

  19. I drive a 2006 Nissan Murano SL with airbag sensor problems. Over the past year or so I have had 3 lights and 3 repairs. Each one of these has been caused by Crown protection spray getting into the sensors, and the repairs costing over $1000.00. I now have another light showing an airbag problem. As the replacement cost has been very high in each event and the value of my Nissan Murano is in single figures I have started to use the car as is. I have driven vehicles of all sizes
    for many years long before air bags with only seat belts, and are very reluctant to pay another $1000.00.
    My question : have you been notified of any other Nissan’s with this problem, or other vehicles having problems after a visit to Crown Rust Control. I would like to know when I do research for another car.
    Thank you for your help.

  20. 2017 Subaru Forester passenger air bag msg on console says OFF and stays lit when seat is vacant. When passenger sits in seat air bag light states passenger air bag On but light stays on all the time as well. Is there a problem with car sensor or passenger air bag?

  21. Hi can I still drive my car without harming any other parts of my nizan 2012 while the suplemental air bag warning light is on ? Thank you for your time

  22. Hi

    i have a polo vw highline Tsi 1.2 2016 model today i went for leather seat fitting after that on my dash it shows airbag error how can i rase this or should i take it to a agarage or what please help

  23. Hi there I’ve mercedes c180 w203 2001 with srs light on I’ve checked all connections under both seats and replaced drivers airbag light still on any suggestions please? was going to doors airbags?
    Thanks Samuel

  24. I have 2016 Nissan Altima and the airbag light stays on how do I fix it without spending a million dollars I need a sticker and that’s the only thing holding me back

  25. 2012 maxima.. I tried to jump start , didn’t work. Removed battery and installed a new one. Air bag light is flashing. Nissan dealer says that they can not get into system to detect the issue and/or get codes. Any ideas?

  26. Due to very high demand and a high amount of comments, you might have trouble getting your comment answered by me. If you want to get fast answers from a certified automotive technician you should ask your questions here: Ask A Mechanic

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