What Does the Airbag Warning Light Mean?

Sometimes called the Supplemental Restraint System (SRS), the airbag system in your car is designed to inflate within fractions of a second to provide a cushion in the event of a collision. The airbags use sensors in the seat belts and the seats themselves to determine whether or not the airbag should be deployed. This way, if no one is in the passenger seat, the airbag won’t deploy unnecessarily.

What the airbag warning light means

Every time the engine is started, the computer does a quick check on the system to make sure everything is working as intended. When you start your car, the airbag warning light will turn on for a few seconds and should turn off automatically if everything is okay. If the light stays on, the computer has detected an issue and will store a code to help identify the cause. Most importantly, if the light stays on, the airbag system is disabled to try and prevent the airbags from deploying randomly. Some common issues include a malfunctioning seat belt switch or seat sensor. On older vehicles, it is common for the clockspring in the steering wheel to wear out preventing the computer from telling the airbag to deploy.

What to do when the airbag warning light is on

Check your seatbelts for any debris as that can prevent the switch from moving. Most likely the issue won’t be that easy and you’ll need more information to find out the cause.

If the light stays on, you will need to have the car’s computer scanned for codes to determine what the issue is. Most vehicles have a reset procedure that will need to be done to turn the light off as well. Always remember that working with airbags is dangerous as they are critical to your safety and they should only be handled by trained professionals.

Is it safe to drive with the airbag warning light on?

While the vehicle can be driven, keep in mind that the airbag won’t deploy in the case of a collision which is very dangerous. Try not to drive your vehicle unless absolutely necessary or unless you are taking it to the auto shop to get it repaired.

As always, if you feel uncomfortable driving the vehicle, our certified technicians are always available to come to you and help you diagnose the issue.


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Patrick

33 years of experience
1408 reviews
Patrick
33 years of experience
Hyundai Sonata V6-3.3L - 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.
Dodge Caliber - Air Bag Light is on - Austin, Texas
Good service!

Richard

21 years of experience
461 reviews
Richard
21 years of experience
Volkswagen Jetta L4-2.0L - Air Bag Light is on - Mableton, Georgia
Nissan Maxima - Air Bag Light is on - Atlanta, Georgia

Joshua

27 years of experience
709 reviews
Joshua
27 years of experience
Pontiac Vibe L4-1.8L - Air Bag Light is on - Oakland, California
Explained things clearly. Forgot 1 thing related to my keyless entry which works sporadically.
Mini Cooper - Air Bag Light is on - Walnut Creek, California
Friendly demeanor and explained clearly the repair process. Good and positive communication.

Tyrone

11 years of experience
423 reviews
Tyrone
11 years of experience
Chevrolet Suburban 1500 V8-5.3L - Air Bag Light is on - Upper Marlboro, Maryland
On time and vehicle running great.
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!

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