How to Replace Driver Side Air Bags

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If you’ve ever seen an airbag deploy, you will know that it is not a particularly pleasant experience. The airbag is designed to inflate in fractions of a second so that when you come into contact with it, the bag is deflating and slowing you down.

Thankfully the process of removing the airbag from the steering wheel is fairly painless. Undo a couple screws and it pulls away. Some manufacturers have started using spring loaded clips which are pressed in with just a flathead screwdriver.

  • Warning: The explosives inside can be dangerous if handled improperly, so always be cautious when handling airbags.

Part 1 of 2: Removing the old airbag

Materials

  • Drill bit
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Ratchet
  • Socket
  • Torx screwdriver

  • Note: Different vehicle manufacturers have differents methods of securing the airbag to the steering wheel. Check to see what type of screws, if any, are used to secure the airbag. It will most likely be a torx screw, but there are some that use a particular size drill bit to make it difficult to tamper with the airbag. Some manufacturers don’t use screws at all and instead have spring loaded tabs that you depress to remove the steering wheel. Check online or in the vehicle repair guide to figure out exactly what you’ll need.

disconnecting battery

Step 1: Disconnect the negative terminal on the car battery. You don’t want any power flowing through the car as you remove the airbag, as a small arc could set it off right in your face.

Tuck the cable away from the terminal on the battery so there’s no chance they will touch. Let the car sit for about 15 minutes to fully drain the capacitors.

screw holes on back of steering wheel

Step 2: Locate the screw holes on the back of the steering wheel. You may have to remove some of the plastic panels on the steering column to access all of the screws.

You can also turn the wheel to help make more room.

As mentioned before, some cars will have spring loaded tabs that you must depress. There will be holes with horizontal slots for a flathead screwdriver.

unscrewing an airbag

Step 2: Undo all of the screws and remove the airbag. Press in all tabs to pull out the airbag if you don’t have screws.

Now we can access the plugs to fully remove the airbag.

prying up the tab on the airbag connector

Step 4: Unplug the airbag. There will be two different connectors to undo.

Make sure not to damage these, or the airbag may malfunction.

  • Tip: Remember to leave the airbag lying face up so if it does blow, it doesn’t launch itself into the air and damage something.

Part 1 of 2: Installing your new airbag

plugging in new airbag

Step 1: Plug in your new airbag. Make sure to plug it in correctly or the airbag won’t function properly.

Give the wires a light tug to make sure they won’t come loose.

reinserting airbag

Step 2: Reinsert airbag into the steering wheel. Make sure no wires get caught and mashed between components when you put the airbag in.

If you have spring tabs, the wheel will pop into place and is ready to go.

screwing on airbag

Step 2: Screw in the airbag. Tighten the screws down with one hand.

Take care not to strip them or you will have a hard time if you ever need to replace the airbag again.

reconnecting the battery

Step 4: Reconnect negative terminal on the battery. Test out the horn and any functions on the steering wheel to make sure everything is okay.

If everything works, reinstall any panels that you removed before.

With the airbag replaced, you can be sure that you will have some protection in the event of a collision. If the airbag light comes on when you start the car back up, one of our certified technicians from YourMechanic will be happy to help identify any issues.


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Richard

19 years of experience
461 reviews
Richard
19 years of experience
Volkswagen Jetta - Air Bag Light is on - Mableton, Georgia
Chrysler PT Cruiser - Air Bag Light is on - Lithia Springs, Georgia
Good service

Tyrone

9 years of experience
422 reviews
Tyrone
9 years of experience
Ford Explorer - Air Bag Light is on - Alexandria, Virginia
This was my first time using this service. It was great to have a qualified mechanic come to my house, diagnosis my car and explain the issues. I have taken my car to many mechanics over the last few months and none could clearly explain the issues. Tyrone is a! He is mechanic for here on out! He is like your personal barber or family doctor. Thanks for the great service!
Chevrolet Suburban 1500 - Air Bag Light is on - Upper Marlboro, Maryland
On time and vehicle running great.

Whitney

37 years of experience
783 reviews
Whitney
37 years of experience
Honda Accord - Air Bag Light is on - Sunnyvale, California
I am very satisfied with YourMechanic services. They are responsive, provide correct and cost effective solutions, punctual and performance centric. Just need to book appointment and all that served very efficiently at your doorstep.
Hyundai Sonata - AC is not working - Sunnyvale, California

Patrick

31 years of experience
1044 reviews
Patrick
31 years of experience
Dodge Caliber - Air Bag Light is on - Austin, Texas
Good service!
Hyundai Sonata - Air Bag Light is on - Austin, Texas
Had a wonderful experience. Greatest thing that he did not try to scare me with repairs to sell service which is very common at shops. Made my day.

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