Why Is Your Airbag Light On?

By: Kris LeSueur   |   04 Dec 2023
Image from: Carr Chevrolet

Your car's airbag light, often labeled SRS (Supplemental Restraint System), serves as a vital safety indicator. It illuminates when an issue needs attention, but understanding why it's on can be a bit of a puzzle. Below are the reasons behind the airbag light activation to help you address the underlying problem.

Low Car Battery

One surprising cause of the airbag light coming on is a low car battery. The airbag's backup battery relies on your vehicle's main battery, so when the primary battery is drained, the backup also loses power. This results in the airbag light flashing. The good news is that once you've resolved the main battery issue, the backup battery should regain power, and the light will go off.

Worn-Out Airbag Clock Spring

Inside your steering wheel, there's a component called the clock spring. It allows your steering wheel to turn without affecting the electrical wiring for the driver's airbag. Over time, constant movement can wear down the clock spring, causing it to disconnect the driver's side airbag. This can lead to delayed airbag deployment and the activation of the airbag light.

Wet Airbag Module

The airbag control module, usually located beneath the driver or passenger seat can be vulnerable to moisture and corrosion. Any exposure to water or physical damage can disrupt its operation, resulting in the airbag light coming on. So, be cautious of spills to prevent potential damage to your control module.

Sensor Sensibility

Your car relies on various sensors, such as knock sensors, TPS, and impact sensors, to ensure smooth operation. If any of these sensors malfunction or send incorrect signals to your car's computer, it can trigger the airbag light. Diagnosing sensor issues can be complex, so it's advisable to consult a professional mechanic for accurate diagnostics.

Seatbelt Blues

Problems with your seatbelt can also cause the airbag light to activate. Obstructions or damaged components that prevent your seatbelt from engaging properly can trigger the sensor. Some vehicles even have sensors that detect whether you're wearing a seatbelt, and failing to do so might illuminate the airbag light. Always ensure you buckle up for safety.

Should you reset airbags after a collision?

In the aftermath of a collision, your vehicle may require servicing, especially if the sensors triggered the airbag deployment. Mechanics should replace the deployed airbag and reset the airbag light during these repairs. However, sometimes, they might forget to reset it after minor collisions that activate the sensor. Keep in mind that an airbag light reset is still necessary in such cases.

Certain vehicles offer the option to deactivate the passenger-side airbag, primarily to protect young children or pets in the passenger seat. Deactivation is a safety measure, but remember to reactivate the airbag when carrying adult passengers.

If you’re unsure why the airbag light of your car is on, it’s best to bring it to your trusted mechanic for a check. They will inspect your car for the culprit and reset the airbag settings for you if necessary.


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