Why Does The Airbag Light On Dashboard Always Stay On?


You’ll likely never use the airbag system in your car, assuming everything goes smoothly, and you’re never in a collision. But, despite that, you must always ensure it’s in excellent working condition, as it could save your life. So, if you see the airbag light on your dashboard turned on, never take it lightly.

The airbag light on your dashboard stays on because the system is experiencing a problem that needs your urgent attention. If the airbag was recently deployed, the light stays on because the system wasn’t reset correctly. Besides that, its backup battery is depleted, the airbag control module is wet, the clock spring is damaged, or the impact sensors are faulty.

The airbag light doesn’t tell the whole story of what’s happening. So, read through this guide to understand the likely causes and what you can do to get them fixed.

Why Won’t My Dashboard Airbag Light Turn Off?

When the airbag light refuses to turn off, the system is experiencing a problem.

Here are the most common reasons that problem is happening:

Deployed System Not Reset

The first reason the airbag light on your dashboard won’t turn off is that the system hasn’t been reset correctly. That’s especially true if you recently had a collision that caused the airbags to deploy.

After mechanics repair your car and replace the used airbag, they’re supposed to reset the entire system and ensure it can work again if necessary. They must reprogram the airbag control module, which acts as the system’s ‘brain’.

Unfortunately, that reset process could have been done incorrectly or not at all. As a result, the airbag light stays on to tell you that the system isn’t ready to function correctly.

How to fix it: You can solve this problem by resetting the airbag system in your vehicle. Given how crucial that process is to your car’s safety, it’s always best to let trained professionals handle it.

The mechanic or automotive technician must reset the system by removing any hard data on the airbag system’s computer and clearing any active crash codes.

Once that’s done, and the system is reset, the airbag light will turn off.

Backup Battery Depleted

Your car’s airbag system needs power to function, just like every other system in the vehicle. Unfortunately, the car’s battery isn’t the most reliable source as it’s the first thing to get damaged in a frontal collision.

So, not only does the airbag system connect to the car battery, but it also has a backup battery at a safer location in the car. That way, the system always has power to deploy airbags and keep you safe in a crash.

The second reason your airbag light always stays on is its backup battery is depleted. That could be the result of different problems, such as:

  • The backup battery isn’t receiving power from the car’s electrical system, perhaps due to a short circuit or bad wiring.
  • The backup battery is worn out and can’t store power normally.

How to fix it: You must troubleshoot the backup battery like you’d troubleshoot your car’s primary battery.

Firstly, check the electrical system to ensure that the backup battery receives incoming power. If that’s not the case, you must fix or replace the wiring so the battery can recharge normally.

However, if the battery stays depleted despite having an electricity supply, you must replace it with a new one. Worn-out batteries can’t be recovered, so for the safety of everyone in the vehicle, you must get a replacement battery as soon as possible.

Airbag Module Is Wet

The airbag system consists of several components, and all of them are controlled by a control module. That module is often referred to as the airbag system’s computer or brain. It collects data from sensors and determines how the system will react.

The airbag module is concealed behind the car’s panels. Unfortunately, that means you’ll never see it with your own eyes when you’re inside the vehicle.

Still, the airbag module can get wet and indefinitely trigger the airbag light on your dashboard. Despite being concealed, flood or severe rain damage could allow water to get where it doesn’t belong, including around that module.

The airbag module is an electronic component, and getting wet will cause it to malfunction, assuming it doesn’t short-circuit and stop working altogether.

How to fix it: Much like most electronic components that get soaked in water, your wet airbag module must be replaced with a new one. That’s because a module that suffers water damage can’t be repaired.

This is a critical repair that you must do immediately without a moment’s delay. Every moment you drive your car with a wet airbag module, you’re putting your passengers and yourself at risk.

Read: Oil Light in Car: What To Do and How To Fix?

Clock Spring Is Damaged

The clock spring is another crucial component that can trigger the airbag light when it malfunctions. It’s not a spring per se, but it’s a coil inside the steering wheel that expands and contracts as you turn it.

The clock spring ensures that electrical components on the steering wheel can still receive a power supply even when you turn it to the left or right.

In simpler terms, the clock spring allows you to turn the steering wheel while keeping the horn, airbag, and other controls powered and connected to the car’s systems.

Unfortunately, the clock spring can suffer damage or wear out. When that happens, any connected components, including the airbag, won’t function correctly. That will trigger the airbag light to let you know there’s a problem.

How to fix it: The clock spring is another component you can’t repair once it’s damaged or worn out. So, the only straightforward solution is to replace it with a new one to ensure your car’s safety.

Sensors Are Faulty

Remember that the airbag system relies on several sensors to function correctly. More specifically, it depends on impact sensors to quickly sense when the vehicle is in a collision.

Most typically have front and side impact sensors for that purpose. However, some vehicle makes, and models might have additional sensors.

When that happens, the airbag system can then deploy relevant airbags to minimize the damage from that impact.

How to fix it: Your car’s impact sensors could mean the difference between life and death. Faulty sensors will prevent airbags from deploying especially when they’re needed the most.

So, you must get a qualified professional to inspect the sensors for you and fix the problem. If sensor replacements are necessary, you must replace them as soon as possible.

Your car has plenty of spare parts you can skimp out on because it’s safe to choose cheaper replacements. Unfortunately, however, your impact sensors are not among them.

Get them fixed properly and replace them with high-quality parts when necessary.

Final Thoughts

If everything goes well, you’ll never get to see your car’s airbag system in action. However, if you’re in a collision, you’ll want to know that the system will do its job.

That’s only possible if you troubleshoot any airbag issues you find as soon as possible. Of course, that is also true when the airbag light on your dashboard is on and won’t turn off.

This is not a problem worth ignoring, so again, get it checked by a professional as soon as possible so they can fix it for you.

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