A car’s airbag light should come on briefly when you turn on the ignition to indicate that the system is online. You may need to reset it when it fails to turn off automatically after performing this check.
However, if you’ve never reset an airbag light before, you may wonder how you can do so properly. If you’d like to find out, keep reading to see what I learned!
How Do I Reset An Airbag Light?
You can reset your airbag light on your own by restarting the car a few times if you need to. A reset might be necessary if the light stays on permanently or if it doesn’t come on at all when you start the car. You can do it yourself for free without using any tools.
If you’d like to learn more about resetting an airbag light after an accident, resetting an airbag module, how much it costs to reset the light and more, keep reading!
How Do I Reset an Airbag Light?
To reset the airbag light, do the following:
- Put the key in the ignition and start the car
- Keep an eye on the airbag light, because it’s going to turn on for around 7 seconds before turning off on its own and, as soon as it turns off ( i.e. right before it starts blinking) turn the key to stop the car
- Repeat the above steps two more times and the light will reset
This method should work for small electrical issues such as a new device installation or one of the connectors being unplugged and replugged at some point.
However, if this doesn’t solve the issue, take your car to a professional to have it examined. Remember that if the airbag light stays on, the airbag will not deploy in an accident.
Some newer cars will not allow you to reset the airbag light through this method, though, so you might have to use a special type of OBD-II scanner to run diagnostics and clear error codes.
How Do I Reset an Airbag Light After an Accident?
After an accident, the airbag light comes on and stays on to indicate that the airbags have deployed successfully and that they’re now deactivated.
When you get airbags replaced, the light will also be reset in the process so you don’t have to do it yourself.
Resetting it requires the same process as mentioned above, but you should wait until the airbags have been replaced to do so.
How Do I Reset an Airbag Module?
To reset an airbag module, do the following:
- Open the hood and locate the negative terminal on the battery
- Loosen the wire at the nut and disconnect it for between 3 and 5 seconds
- Reconnect it and the module should be reset
Can You Reset an Airbag Light Without Tools?
By following the procedure laid out in the section above, you can reset your airbag light manually without using any tools.
To do so, restart your car a few times after a brief interval. However, note that newer models will not allow you to use this method to reset the airbag light due to safety concerns, so you will have to use an OBD-II scanner with an SRS light reset option.
It’s best to test the first one out before deciding to take the car to the shop to have someone do it for you or before purchasing the scanner.
How Much Does It Cost to Reset the Airbag Light?
You can reset your airbag light yourself without using any special tools, so it actually doesn’t cost anything.
If you take your vehicle to a mechanic, they could take several hours and may charge you as much as $600 just to reset the light.
What Does It Mean When the Airbag Light Stays On?
If your airbag light comes on when you start the car but it doesn’t turn off, it might signal a problem within different components of the airbag system.
In the least serious scenario, it could stay on after you install a new radio or other electronic device onto the dashboard that interferes with it.
If your car has suffered water damage or has been exposed to unusually large amounts of moisture, this could affect the airbag system.
Your airbag module is located underneath one of the front seats and is susceptible to damage when it comes in contact with water.
Something like a liquid spill inside the car or flooding that might have made its way into the chassis could have corroded or short-circuited the module, causing the airbag light to stay on.
If your airbag sensors fail at any point, this will also cause the airbag light to stay on.
This is more serious because the sensors are what detect crashes and trigger the airbags to deploy, so you should reset the light immediately to rule it out – if it stays on, take your car to the shop and have the sensors replaced.
An airbag system’s clock spring could get worn over time as it moves along with the steering wheel to the point where it no longer connects the driver’s side airbag and the electricals, which could turn on the airbag light.
If your car battery was recently drained, it could have also resulted in the backup battery that powers the airbag system being depleted.
Usually, this will resolve itself when the battery is recharged, but if it doesn’t, you will need to get the backup battery recharged and have the sensors looked at.
Will Disconnecting the Battery Reset the Airbag Light?
Disconnecting the battery will only reset the airbag light in some older vehicle models. This isn’t a feature that’s standard across all older cars, because it works on some while it doesn’t do anything on others.
As stated in the section above, the airbag systems usually have a separate battery that can be affected if the primary battery is out of commission, so you should be careful when attempting to reset the light through this method.
If the procedure outlined at the start of the article doesn’t work and you don’t have a scanner handy, you’re better off taking it to a mechanic instead of risking more damage to your airbag system.
To know more about airbags, you can also see our posts on how many airbags are in a car, if you can sell used airbags, if trucks have airbags, and how much does it cost to replace airbags.
Your airbag light could stay on or fail to turn on completely due to an issue with one or more parts of the airbag system. Therefore, resetting it is a good way to get it to turn on and off as usual.
You can reset your airbag light yourself, for free and without tools by starting your car, waiting about 7 seconds, then turning it off three times in a row or by using an OBD-II scanner on newer cars.