How to Reset Airbag Light

Your car’s ECU makes an internal check every time you start your car in which the airbag light turns on around five to seven seconds and then turns off. But what if it stays on? This article will show you how to reset the airbag lights.

The simplest way to reset the airbag light is to do the following:

  1. Place the car key into the ignition and turn it on. But don’t turn on the ignition;
  2. Wait until the airbag light is turned on. The light should stay on for up to seven seconds and then turns off;
  3. After the light shuts off, immediately turn the switch off and wait about three seconds; and
  4. Repeat steps one to three once or twice.

It is also possible to reset the airbag light by disconnecting the battery. If you remove the terminal clamp on the battery and leave it disconnected for about five to ten seconds, this will reset the airbag sensor, and consequently, its warning light.

Read on to learn more about resetting the airbag light of your car, the steps you need to take, and the different ways you can do it.

How to Reset Airbag Light 

How to Reset Airbag Light

Resetting the airbag light is relatively simple if that’s the only thing that you want to do. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Place the car key into the ignition and turn it on, without turning on the ignition;
  2. Wait until the airbag light is turned on. This light will stay on for about seven seconds and then turns off;
  3. After the light shuts off, turn the switch off right away and then wait about three seconds; and
  4. Repeat steps one to three once or twice.

Most often, you can get rid of the lighted airbag light by resetting the airbag sensor. If you remove the terminal clamp of the battery and disconnect it for about five to ten seconds, it will reset the airbag sensor. Then reconnect the terminal and turn on the key again. Hopefully, the airbag light will stay off.

Unsafe to Drive with the Airbag Light on

You should resolve this issue because it is unsafe to drive your car with the airbag light on. The airbags in your car are your primary protection in case of collisions with another car or a stationary object.

Have a Qualified Mechanic Check the Airbag

Its warning light being on without any cause indicates that it is encountering certain issues. The airbags may not deploy if your car meets an accident. That’s dangerous. You should repair it right away or at least have a qualified mechanic check what’s causing it to turn on when it should not.

You can reset the airbag warning light yourself. But if you find this task too intimidating, you can ask a professional mechanic to do it for you. Correcting the problem may take several hours. The cost of having a mechanic do it will probably reach up to $600.

How to Reset Airbag Light Without a Scanner

It is quite possible to reset the airbag light right in your home garage. This can save you not just repair money but also a trip to the mechanic or the dealership. The airbag light should only stay on after your car has encountered an accident by which the airbag was deployed.

When the airbag light keeps lighted without any visible cause, its system or sensor might malfunction. This could happen if you install a new radio or if the sensor is going bad. It may require certain repairs to correct the underlying issue before you can reset this light. Whatever the case may be, here is one method of resetting the airbag light of your car:

1. Switch On the System

Place the car key into the ignition and turn on the switch. Do not turn the key all the way through, or you will start the engine.

2. Wait for Seven Seconds

When you turn the switch on, your car will initiate a self-check. Wait for the airbag light to turn on. When it turns on, it will stay lighted for about seven seconds, and then it will shut off. Once the light shuts off, turn the switch off immediately, and then wait for three seconds.

3. Redo Steps I and 2 at Least Twice

Repeat steps one and two twice, at least. Then start the engine. The airbag light should turn on for seven seconds. Then it will immediately turn off and stay unlighted from here on. If this is what you see, you have reset the airbag light successfully.

Resetting the Airbag Light With a Scanner

how to reset airbag light with scanner

Some believe that the airbag light should be reset only by a professional. That means you have to ask a qualified mechanic to do it. This is good advice if you are not 100% sure that you can do it right. However, there’s nothing wrong with knowing what the professionals do to correct the issue.

Here’s how professional mechanics do it:

1. Examine the Passenger Airbag Switch

Some cars have a ‘Passenger Seat Airbag On/Off Button.’ You need to check this button first before resetting the airbag light. Perhaps someone has accidentally turned it off, which caused the light to stay on.

This button is usually located on the passenger side of the dashboard. You will see it if you will open the glove box or the front passenger door.

2. Use an OBDII Scanner

The airbag system of your car is complex. To check if this system is encountering any issue, qualified mechanics often use the OBDII scanner to read the trouble codes related to the airbag system. This gives them an idea as to where they can start troubleshooting the problem.

What they usually do is to fix the underlying problem first before they clear the trouble code. They examine and read the code and get the info of its causes and how to fix them.

3. Fix the Issue

The procedure followed by qualified mechanics is never to reset the airbag light before they fix the cause of the problem. If this is not followed, there is no assurance that the airbags will deploy if the car encounters an accident.

When the cause of the issue is pinpointed, let the professionals do the fixing. You may know how to do it, but you may not have the skills and experience of doing it. So let the professionals do the job. After they have fixed the issue, the airbag light will often go away by itself in some car models. Hopefully, this is the case with your car.

4. Clear the Trouble Codes

When the mechanic has replaced the malfunctioning component with a new one, and they are sure it is installed correctly, they will reset the airbag light. They will again use an OBDII scanner to do this. There is no other way but this.

After they have reset this light, it will disappear from the dashboard. If it turns on still, they will re-read the codes and continue to diagnose the problems until they have read, fixed, and cleared all trouble codes that caused the airbag light to stay on.

5. Re-start and Test Drive

If it appears that the airbag light is no longer flashing on the dashboard, restart the engine and take it for a test drive. Pay attention to this light as you drive. If it stays completely turned off, you have fixed the problem. If the light comes back, re-read the codes and start all over again.

Again, how to reset the airbag light? To reset the airbag light, turn your ignition on and wait for the airbag light to turn on, taking about seven seconds. Then, switch off your ignition. Finally, wait for three seconds, then do the same steps again.

Is It Possible to Reset the Airbag Light Without a Scanner?

how to reset airbag light after accident
Examine the wiring system underneath the passenger and the driver seat.

It may be possible to do it without using a scanner. But in most modern cars, it is not possible. The reason is safety. You are advised to fix the problem before resetting the airbag light. If this light turns on, and you could fix why it turned on in the first place, it will go off by itself.

That is true in most modern cars. It may not be with cars that were made many decades ago. With older cars, it could be possible to reset the airbag light without a scanner. You can do it by just removing the battery terminals from the battery.

However, the problem may resurface if you will not address or fix the underlying cause. Examine the wiring system underneath the passenger and the driver seat. Check for any loose wires or rusts on the connector plug.

If rusts are present, spray the corroded part with an electronic cleaner. Then restart your car. Hopefully, the airbag light will stay off. But if it still stays on, you have to use an OBDII scanner. It’s the only way you can safely put this issue behind your back.

Other Ways of Resetting the Airbag Light

Aside from the methods described above, there are other ways to reset the airbag light if it stays on. You may have to do some preliminary checking before you proceed with the steps of fixing the problem.

Preliminary Checking

Some of the first things that you have do include the following:

  • Charge the battery 100%
  • Get new bulbs
  • Inspect seat belt components
  • Replace defective clock springs
  • Change malfunctioning sensors

Some of these tasks you can do yourself. In others, you will need the help of a mechanic. For complex repairs that need electronic tools, skill, and expertise, give them to a qualified mechanic.

Steps

To reset your airbag light using the above approach, follow these ten steps:

  1. Place the key in the ignition and turn it on and off.
  2. With the key in the ignition, turn it on to start your car and go for a test drive.
  3. Check the passenger airbag switch.
  4. Inspect if all the seat belts are fastened and working as they should.
  5. Check if the passenger seat sensor is not active. It should not be applied.
  6. Get a vehicle scanner with an airbag light or SRS reset option.
  7. Address airbag sensors that are malfunctioning.
  8. Replace or repair a bad clock spring.
  9. Ensure that the airbags are not defective
  10. Ask the help of a professional mechanic if you run into situations that are beyond your ability to solve.

The applicability of the steps given above depends on your car’s type, make, and model. It would be best to have the car operator’s manual and refer to it as you fix yourself. If you run into any trouble, ask the help of a trusted mechanic. It’s better to pay for their services than damage your car’s system, which can be more expensive to fix.

Conclusion: How to Reset Airbag Light 

The easiest way you can reset your car’s airbag light is to follow these steps:

  1. Place the car key into the ignition and turn the ignition on;
  2. Wait for the airbag light to turn on. The light should stay on for up to seven seconds and then turns off;
  3. After the light shuts off, immediately turn the switch off and wait about three seconds; and
  4. Repeat steps one to three once or twice.

There are some problems in your car’s airbag system that may not be in your capacity to solve. The airbag system is there for your safety. Treat it very carefully so it will always ensure your safety.