Is It Safe to Drive With the Airbag Light on?

Drive With Airbag Light

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.

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!

RELATED: How to Reset Airbag Codes/Light

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.

RELATED: How to Check a Car’s Safety Rating Online

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.

Conclusion

  • 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.

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.

Written by: Magnus Sellén

Founder, owner & main author of Mechanic Base. I have been repairing cars for more than 10 years, specialized in advanced diagnostics & troubleshooting. I have also been a drifting driver and mechanic for over 7 years.