Have you ever been driving when your SRS light suddenly comes on?
And you’re wondering:
- What does it mean?
- Is it safe to drive with the SRS light on?
- Why does it come on and what do I do?
This article will answer those questions and explain everything you need to know about the SRS light.
Let’s dive in!
What Does SRS Light Mean?
The Supplemental Restraint System (SRS), also called the airbag system, is designed to deploy airbags that protect the driver and passengers in sudden accidents.
The SRS warning light, also called the airbag light, on the dashboard usually looks like a person sitting in a seat with a seat belt on. In some cars, the letters “SRS” may come up as well.
When you turn the ignition on, the SRS conducts a self-test, triggering the SRS warning light to illuminate for about 6 seconds. Then, it automatically goes off.
However, if the SRS warning light stays on or blinks while driving, it indicates the SRS is malfunctioning. At that time, this safety system has been disabled or the airbags will not deploy during a collision.
Is It Safe to Drive When the SRS Light Stays on?
No. Actually, you can continue driving but have your car inspected and repaired as soon as possible. Driving with a disabled SRS system can put yourself and your passengers in danger. Because an accident can suddenly occur regardless of how carefully you drive and the safety system cannot be working as it should.
A fun fact you should note is that inside the SRS is a “black box” recording details of the accident. And insurance companies might not cover medical bills if they detected the SRS light was triggered in the accident. Then, knowing the causes and fixes helps you avoid troubles with insurance companies.
Why Is My SRS Light On?
In fact, the SRS is quite complex so to diagnose what triggers the light, you need a scan tool (I will show this in the next part). But based on 15-year experience in diagnostic and repair service for Honda, Mercedes, Toyota, etc., here are the common reasons why the SRS light stays on and how to fix it.
Battery Voltage Decrease
The SRS is equipped with a backup battery. A low car battery can make the SRS backup battery get low too. Malfunctions related to battery voltage decrease trigger the SRS warning light. When the source voltage returns to normal, the light automatically goes off.
Solution: Recharge or replace your car battery, then reset the SRS computer.
Here’s how you can test the car battery with a multimeter.
Broken Airbag Sensor
Normally, these sensors detect and send important information like collision type, angle, severity of impact, etc. to the SRS computer. Using this information, the computer will control all the SRS. However, if the sensor is not working properly, the computer will trigger the SRS light to inform drivers.
Solution: Check and replace the sensor if necessary, then reset the computer.
Under the driver and passenger seats, you can see the wiring system. Over time, the connectors are loose or damaged and discontinue the system.
Solution: Look for any poor contact in connectors and tighten them.
Malfunctioning Seat Belt Buckle
A coin or other small object can lodge in the buckle of your seat belt. Besides, loose or poorly strapped seat belts can disable the airbag and trigger the airbag light. When this happens, the sensor may not recognize and activate the airbag light.
Solution: Before replacing the sensor, check inside the buckle for stuck objects and remove them. Have the SRS computer reset if necessary.
The SRS may malfunction if the crash sensors in your car were activated in an accident but did not require the airbags to deploy. This causes airbag warning lights to illuminate.
Solution: Have your technician reset the SRS computer and its crash sensor back to normal operation.
If there is any water damage inside your car, corrosion could have happened in SRS-related components.
As a result, the airbag system would fail, and the SRS warning light would come on.
Solution: Inspect all system components and replace the corroded components. Reset your SRS system to make sure all of its parts are functioning properly once more.
Damaged Clock Spring
The clock spring ensures that the electrical connection between the SRS computer and the airbag is maintained when you turn the steering wheel.
If the clock spring stops working, the computer cannot tell the driver’s airbag to deploy when necessary. Then, the SRS light will come on.
Solution: Replace the damaged clock spring and reset the SRS computer.
Watch this video to learn how to replace the clock spring.
Faulty SRS Computer
Like all computers, the SRS computer can wear and tear. Heat, vibration, age, and water damage can all result in a faulty SRS computer and turn on the airbag warning light.
Solution: The only solution is to replace the SRS computer.
How to Reset the SRS Light
Step 1: Test the battery
First, measure the voltage of the battery. The standard voltage is from 11 V to 14 V.
The low voltage can cause all kinds of problems and result in an incorrect diagnosis.
So, recharge or replace the battery if it’s low. If not, move on to the next step.
Step 2: Use a scan tool to read the trouble codes
You can read the trouble codes by using an SRS OBD2 scanner.
Having a scan tool can prevent diagnostic costs because you can easily determine the exact cause of the issue.
So, how to use an OBD2 scanner to diagnose the SRS light? Following these steps:
- Connect the scanner to the car’s OBD port.
- Turn the ignition on.
- Select the “Read Codes” function on the scanner to search for the codes.
- Figure out what the code means.
To know exactly the cause of the issues, use the DTC Look-up Library of the scan tool or go to OBD2 Code Lookup Tool. You will find the Meaning, Symptoms, Causes, and How to fix the codes you have.
I have tested on many cars in the US, including model years like the 2000 Honda Accord, 2012 Mercedes Benz C250, 2001 Acura CL, etc., and found that the following trouble codes are often triggered when the SRS light is on:
- B0028 – Right Side Airbag Deployment Control
- B2436 – Passengers Seat Belt Buckle Switch Circuit Open
- B1013 – Occupant Classification System Calibration Fault
- B2290 – Occupant Classification System Status, Front Passenger Side
Step 3: Repair the broken or malfunctioning parts based on the codes
Let a professional repair or replace the airbag’s parts if you are not sure how to do it.
Step 4: Clear the trouble codes
Select the “Erase” function on the scanner.
After clearing the trouble codes, restart your car and drive for 50-100 miles. Eventually, the SRS light is gone and you solve the problem!
If the SRS light comes on, it’s important to take immediate action to address the issue to ensure the safety of you and your passengers.
Buying a scan tool in case you want to identify the cause and reset the SRS light.
Here’s my in-depth review on the Best SRS OBD2 Scanners. Read on and find the best suit for your vehicle.