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Want to learn more about Airbag inspections?

Read our short guide with information on costs, symptoms and more.

What is an SRS (Airbag) Fault Diagnostic?

When a fault appears in the SRS (Supplemental Restraint System), a warning light will appear on the dashboard.

What triggers an SRS warning light?

When the ignition is switched on, the SRS control unit (ECU) will check communication with all the airbag units around the vehicle, the trigger mechanism and seat belt tensioners etc. If communication is satisfied then the light will extinguish,

However, if the return signal from one of the units is not received, or it picks up information that is out of the expected range, then the light will remain on.

What are the potential causes of an SRS warning light?

There is a wide range of error codes that can be received by the SRS ECU, the number depending on the vehicle you have. However there are a few common ones that can trigger it.

  • Steering Wheel Clock Spring; This is the ribbon mechanism which is behind the steering wheel that contains the wires to the drivers airbag. Like a clock spring, they wind and unwind as the steering wheel turns and whilst fairly flexible, after a time they can become brittle and crack
  • Under Seat Connection; There is a connector block under the front seats that connects the wires in the seat SRS components to the vehicles wiring loom. These have to be flexible as the seat needs to be adjusted for position of the occupant and over time they can work loose, especially on 3 door vehicles where the seat are pushed forward to allow access for the rear passengers.

How can I prevent issues occurring with the SRS system?

Whilst there is little you can do to avoid simple wear and tear or component age, there are a few things that you can do to avoid some issues

  • Do not allow rubbish to accumulate behind the front seats. This rubbish can go under the seats and dislodge the seat connections.
  • When moving the front seats for position, try to do so gently without slamming them forward and back.
  • If you have a 3 door and the seats fold forward to allow access for the rear passengers, try to fold the seats with some due care.

How common are SRS faults?

Issues are more common with age, but also with more and more complex and numerous airbags within the car, there are undoubtedly more issues to occur.

What happens during an SRS Fault Diagnostic?

  • The mechanic will plug into the SRS system though your vehicle's diagnostic port.
  • They will then scan the system for the error code.
  • Once a list of the codes has been identified and recorded, they will clear the codes and retest.
  • The remaining error codes will then dictate the next course of action
  • If there are communication error codes, where possible, the mechanic will check the connections.
  • If the connections are fine, then the mechanic will quote you on the required repairs.
  • If the SRS light remains off after the clearing of the codes, it may have been a temporary fault in which no additional action needs to be taken.

How much does an SRS Fault Diagnostic cost?

The cost of an SRS Fault Diagnostic depends on your car and your area. Find out what you could save by having the diagnostic test by ClickMechanic, by selecting your car at the top of this page!

Can the airbag of a car be repaired after an accident?

No, the airbag of car cannot be repaired if it is deployed or inflated during an accident. It will need to be replaced entirely.

Do car airbags expire?

No, airbags do not generally expire and you can expect them to last the lifetime of the car if not deployed. However, manufacturers may have specific recommendations on lifespan so be sure to check the owner's manual for advice on airbags.

How many times can airbags be used?

Airbags are single use only. If they inflate or are deployed, you will need to get them replaced.

 Will an illuminated airbag dashboard warning light lead to an MOT fail?

Yes, an airbag dashboard warning light will result in an MOT fail as it is a safety critical component of the vehicle. If you notice the warning light illuminated, get it checked and the problem resolved by a qualified mechanic prior to the MOT test.

Is airbag replacement covered under insurance?

Generally insurance companies will cover airbag replacement costs if it was deployed as a result of an accident. Check with your insurance provider for the details as this differs with the type of insurance policy you have. If the cost of the replacement is higher than the value of the car, sometimes the vehicle can be written off by the insurance provider.

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

No, it is not safe to drive with the airbag warning light on. If the airbag warning light is on, the airbags in the vehicle will not deploy in the event of a collision. It is important to have the airbags in your vehicle working properly in case you are involved in a car accident. If you have the airbag warning light on, you should take your car to a mechanic to have it checked out as soon as possible.

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