Airbag Replacement vs. Airbag Module Reset: Which Do You Need?
It’s 7:00 a.m. and you leave your house for work. You get into your car and start it up to warm it up a little before beginning your morning commute to the office. You turn on the ignition, all the dashboard lights on your car’s computer system light up as your car begins its usual start up roar, which is nothing unusual until of course you notice that the SRS light remains on after you started your car.
Immediately, you wonder if this is a bad thing or if there is something even more sinister going on inside of your car. You panic a little, do a quick Google search, and realize it’s not a big deal because it’s just your airbag light. You drive to work and your car seems to be working just fine.
As your day goes on, you wonder if you need to get the airbags replaced or if there is a more expensive problem masked as an airbag light problem. You do more Google searches and find topics such as “how to reset airbag light” and other related do-it-yourself type articles that don’t seem to answer your questions. Every time you get in your car, the airbag light pops on and you worry about it every single time. You begin to worry about the cost of having the issue fixed.
Does this sound familiar? We’ve all experienced car dashboard lights remaining on, and many of us have experienced our SRS lights staying on long after we’ve started our car. Since most people aren’t mechanics or mechanically inclined, we often fall into the trap of not doing anything about our airbag lights or we react and call a mechanic or dealership and end up getting charged hundreds of dollars for a possible minor issue that could have been quickly and easily fixed.
The question does remain, how do you know if an SRS airbag light is an easy fix or not? In this article, we are going to dive right into whether or not you need to replace your airbags or if you need an airbag module reset instead. Additionally, we’ll talk about what a reset is and what you can expect to pay.
What Does an Airbag SRS Light Mean?
In short, an airbag light is telling you that something is wrong with your airbag system or one of its components, which could be the seatbelts, the airbags themselves, or the impact sensors in your airbag module. Since they are airbags and are meant to protect you in case of an accident, your car is trying to signal to you that either one or all of your airbags may not deploy in the case of an accident.
This not a chance you really want to take and you should not wait to find out whether or not your airbags work. Sure, you could find the airbag module location and see if there is a fuse or a sensor issue, however, unless you know what you’re doing you definitely do not want to take this on as a DIY car project all on your own. In some cases, your airbag module may be bad and will need to be replaced.
How Do You Know If Your Airbag Module Needs to Be Replaced?
If your light remains on for no apparent reason, or your car was recently in an accident, your module will most likely require an airbag module reset. In some cases, the module will stop working after an accident, and it may not be because of the accident itself. It really is hard to tell because there are so many factors at play, such vehicle history, age, and vehicle make and model.
Since it isn’t easy to tell why your airbag module isn’t working, the first thing you can do is have your vehicle scanned by your mechanic or dealership to see what code your module currently has. They can confirm if your module is bad and needs replacing or not. If it needs replacing, you can order a replacement using the part number on your current module to order the appropriate module replacement for your vehicle.
As mentioned earlier, if your car wasn’t in an accident and the light randomly turned on one day, it is most likely due a connection problem between the module and one of the components in the airbag system. One of those may need to be fixed or replaced, but this is not always the case.
What If Airbag Module Doesn’t Need to Be Replaced?
If your car was in an accident, and the light comes on, then your first line of defense is to have an airbag module reset done. Why? Because when an accident happens, it is not uncommon for all of your module’s hard codes and crash data to get erased. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the module is damaged, it means that your car experienced some type of mechanical trauma that caused certain data and codes to disappear in your car’s computer system. We see this problem occur in the airbag module a majority of the time at some point after an accident.
You’re probably wondering about the cost of having a reset done. In comparison to replacing everything, you’re spending dollars compared to hundreds of dollars, if not more depending on your car. Most reset services out there charge around fifty dollars with a 24-hour turn-around time, which is fast and quite inexpensive. You shouldn’t pay more and you shouldn’t have to wait much longer than a day to have the reset done. Additionally, you should have to do any of your own programming.
Can You Do a Module Reset on Your Own?
Your best airbag module reset tool is having professionals do the manual reset for you. This is especially true for anyone who doesn’t know a lot about cars, or for anyone that doesn’t have the adequate tools to do this on their own. A reset isn’t a DIY project you can do in your garage one weekend and should not be attempted.
While we don’t recommend you do this on your own, we do recommend that you do some of your own troubleshooting because there may be another problem that can be easily fixed. If you know your way around the inside of a car, or you know someone else who does and they can help, you can check for any one of the issues found below.
Airbags and Sensors
As mentioned earlier, you can have a mechanic or dealership check this for you since they will have a scanning tool. You can also buy your own scanning tool but it could end up being a little pricy and an unnecessary expense if all you need is a reset, which is usually the issue after an accident. If you, or your mechanic, determine that the sensors are gone, then all you need to do is replace the sensors.
Blown or Pulled Fuses
By far one of the simplest and cheapest places to start is with checking the fuse to see if it has fallen out of place or if it is burnt out. If it has fallen out, put it back in its place, and if it is burnt out, then buy the appropriate one and replace it. Before you do either of these methods, disconnect the battery first to ensure that the airbags don’t accidentally discharge, replace/fix the fuse, reconnect the battery, and then check for the SRS light on your dashboard.
If the fuse was burnt out, replacement may not guarantee that the issue will be fixed. In some cases, a replaced fuse may continue to cause ongoing problems. Be sure to monitor the situation if this was the fix your airbag module needed at the time.
The next easier fix is by checking that the airbag switch is turned on, if your car has one. If it does have one, it is not uncommon for parents to switch it off when carrying small children and infants in a child seat in the front of the car. Once a child is moved to the back seat of the car, many people forget about the switch and do not switch it back on. Your vehicle’s manual will tell if you have a switch and where to locate it.
Cut or Burned Wires
If your airbags have ever been deployed, it is quite common for the clockspring plug connectors behind the airbag to melt due to the heat of the deployment. If you discover this as the issue, you cannot just walk into your dealership or mechanic’s shop and ask to purchase some new connectors. Most do not sell them, but is possible to order them online and replace them yourself.
Airbag Diagnostics Test
Most newer cars can conduct their own diagnostics tests to check for any problems or malfunctions in the computer system. Your car’s manual or the manufacturer should be able to help you navigate this so you can check for any problems with the main system.
If you checked all of the above, and you still have no idea what is going on, you may went to search for an “SRS airbag module reset near me” and see if you can find a service that can reset your system since everything else appears to be working as it should.
What Is an Airbag Module and What Happens What Will a Reset Do?
An airbag module is a small little box in your car that acts as a controller or main computer for your airbag system. Every component, wire, and part that is connected to the proper operation of your airbag system is connected to your car’s module. This includes the sensors, seatbelts, clocksprings, and the airbags themselves.
The module’s job is to write crash data and store it when your car is in accident. If your airbags end up deploying or your seatbelts tighten up when you’re in any type of accident, then more often than not, your module won’t function as it should. Unbeknownst to most, your module does not necessarily need to be replaced, and can be reused without spending hundreds of dollars.
You’re most likely wondering how can you reuse your airbag’s computer system. You can reuse it by having it reset through the use of a special programming technique that is not usually or readily available at your local mechanic or dealership. The right reset professionals do a flash of any data stored in your airbag controller using the OEM factory program you already have installed and they essentially restore it as if it’s an entirely new device.
The reset process erases codes for all kinds of airbag code errors on most car models, which is why it is important to have your module reset first because few of them are actually “bad” no matter the reason for the SRS light. If someone is telling you need to replace it just because the light is on, and all other options have been exhausted, consider a reset before you make any sudden and costly decisions.
The option few will tell you about is the option to take it to an airbag reset specialist near you to have the error codes erased, which will save you hundreds of dollars and the process can be completed in just one day. The quick turn-around time alone will save you money on car rentals and the hassle of being without your car because it won’t be sitting in the shop waiting for the replacement of your entire airbag system.
After reading through this article, you’ve probably determined that there is a much more affordable and practical option for ensuring your car’s airbag system operates as it should. The SRS light staying on should be cause for concern in terms of safety because your system may not work when you need it most. By searching under, “airbag reset near me,” you will find professionals who can take care of the reset for you right away. The solution is simple and very cost-effective, therefore, in most scenarios you don’t have much to worry about in terms of repairs.