Passenger Airbag Off Light Is On – Why? Should It Be Off?

While driving, will you be startled when the passenger airbag off the light of your car suddenly turns on? I bet you would. In this article, I’ll discuss passenger airbag off light is on – why? Should it be off?

There will be times when your car’s passenger airbag off light will turn on. It will do so automatically when an adult of sufficient weight sits in the passenger seat and is detected by the sensor. The airbag light will turn on if the person sitting on the passenger seat is light and not heavy enough to deploy the airbag.

The airbag warning light should stay on only if the car’s airbag system has a problem. The car’s electronic control unit checks the airbag system when you start it. For a few seconds, this light will turn on. But it will go off if the system is fully working.

Read on to learn more about the passenger airbag off light turning on, why, and if it should always be off.

Passenger Airbag Off Light Is On

passenger airbag off light is on

You may wonder, “why is my passenger airbag light on?” Sometimes, the passenger airbag off light of your car will turn on when an adult person of sufficient weight sits on the passenger seat and is detected by the system.

This airbag off light will turn on if the person sitting on the passenger seat is light and is not heavy enough to deploy the airbag. The sensor determines that deploying the airbag will be unsafe for that lightweight person.

This warning light should stay on only when the airbag system is having a problem. Each time you turn on the ignition, your car’s electronic control unit will do a rudimentary check on all the systems.

This check will turn on the airbag warning light. If it finds no problem with the system, it will also turn off the light.

Most modern cars have this feature in their airbag systems. All car manufacturers know that they need to use a safety feature that can disable the airbag if a child sitting in a rear-facing Child Restraining Seat (CRS) is sitting on the front passenger seat.

What they usually do is disable the airbag while the ignition is off. This feature prevents any possible failures.

Turned On Passenger Airbag Off Light – Overview

To properly understand why your car’s passenger airbag off light turns on, you must understand how this warning light operates.

Might Be Turned Off Due to Safety Reasons

If the airbag warning light pops up on your dashboard, it indicates that your passenger airbag off light is turned on. This happens due to several reasons. What you need to be concerned about is whether the passenger seat is currently occupied or not.

If the seat is occupied by a person, a box, or something else, then the airbag warning light is off for a good reason. It could be for safety reasons that it is turned off.

Confused Weight Sensor

If you habitually put a laptop or backpack on the passenger seat, it will turn off the airbag system. The weight sensor of the system is confused. It can’t determine whether the thing sitting on the seat is a passenger, a bag, or a pet.

But if the sensor could sense the weight of that thing, it would assume that it is a lightweight person.

If the weight of the person sitting on the passenger seat is so light, the airbag system sensor will still detect someone occupying the seat. However, the person is not heavy enough to warrant the airbag’s deployment.

In other words, the sensor thinks that the person on the passenger seat is so light that it would be unsafe to deploy the airbag. So, it turns off the airbag system and activates the airbag off light.

What to Do If the Airbag Off Light Is on Even If You Have an Adult Passenger

There are also instances when the airbag system turns off, even if an adult-sized passenger occupies the passenger seat. If this happens, something causes the system not to work properly.

There are several things you need to do to analyze the problem:

  • First, check if the person sitting on the passenger seat is correctly seated. Have them adjust their sitting position and observe if the warning light turns off. If the light goes off, then the airbag system is working fine.
  • Another thing you can do is to turn off the engine and then start it again after a few seconds. You are trying to reset the system by doing this. The warning light will go off if all is well and the passenger is sitting correctly.
  • If the warning light is still activated, check the airbag system’s sensor if you know how. If you don’t know how to do it, then have it checked by the dealer. Perhaps there is something wrong with the sensor or the system’s electrical wiring.

Passenger Airbag Off for Different Car Models

should the passenger airbag light be on or off

The majority of modern cars have airbag warning lights. Though there are different car brands and models, their warning lighting systems may be similar. What are the different Passenger Airbag Off warning lights of different car brands, and how do they work?

1. Honda

Generally, in Honda Accords and Honda Civics, the airbag on the front passenger seat will be turned off if the person or the thing that sits on it weighs about 65 pounds. This weight is relatively low and is typically less than the average weight of a small child or an infant.

When you see this warning light turned on, or the passenger airbag is off for Honda Civic or Honda Accord, it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with the car’s airbags. You should be aware that the things you place on the front seat can trigger the warning light.

This light may come on and off if the weight sitting on the front seat is almost equal to the airbag’s cutoff threshold. If no one is sitting on the seat, which means the sensor senses no weight, the airbag system warning light will be off.

2. Nissan

In Nissan cars, the front passenger airbag is designed to turn off automatically under certain conditions. The passenger airbag is off for a Nissan when the front passenger seat is unoccupied. This means that the front passenger airbag will not inflate if there’s a crash.

The light will turn on if a child or a small adult sits in the front passenger. This means that the front passenger airbag is off and will not inflate if a crash occurs. So, for safety purposes, add more weight to the seat if the weight of the person seated on it is insufficient.

3. Toyota

The passenger airbag light is off for a Toyota if the weight of the person or thing sitting on the front passenger seat is heavy enough. In such a case, the airbag system sensor has sensed that the weight is safe enough to deploy the airbag if there is a crash.

However, if an adult of sufficient weight is already seated on the front passenger seat and still the airbag light is turned on, there could be an issue with the airbag system.

You may want to know how to turn the passenger airbag on. To turn on the airbag in a Toyota Corolla, you need to locate the airbag switch.

The switch is usually located on the main dashboard or the glove box. You must open the passenger door and reach for the airbag switch to gain access.

4. Tesla

In Tesla cars, you can check the status of the front passenger airbag by searching for it in the head unit of the vehicle.

If you want to see if the passenger airbag is off for a Tesla, you need to go to the Accessories screen of the head unit. Then go to Touch Controls, Safety, and Passenger Front Airbag.

You should do this before driving your Tesla car. The front passenger airbag’s status will be displayed on the screen. It will show that the airbag is off.

When the airbag light is off, the airbag will not deploy if there is a crash. It will also be off when no one is sitting in the front passenger seat.

5. Subaru

The passenger airbag is off for a Subaru when no one or nothing is occupying the front passenger seat. This means the airbag will not inflate if there is a crash.

But if the ‘On’ indicator lights up, even when an adult person is seated in the front seat, it could mean that the person is not sitting correctly.

6. BMW

When no one or nothing is sitting in the front passenger seat of a BMW car, the airbag sensor will sense it. The sensor will deactivate the airbag system. This is one reason the front passenger airbag is off for a BMW.

The airbag for the front passenger will also be turned off, even if someone is sitting on it if the weight of that person is not heavy enough. In such a case, the airbag sensor believes that inflating the airbag will be dangerous to that person. So, the airbag will not deploy, even if there’s a crash.

7. Audi

If you see the passenger airbag is off for an Audi, and the person sitting in the front seat is not lightweight, but of average weight, perhaps there’s a problem with the airbag system.

However, if the person is heavy enough to activate the system, but the sensor does not believe it is safe for the airbag to deploy, the system will turn off automatically.

You may also want to know how to turn the passenger airbag light off. If you need to, you can deactivate the front passenger airbag by flipping its switch.

You will find the switch inside the glove box. You can deactivate the front airbag by inserting the ignition key into the switch and turning it OFF. Likewise, you can turn it back on by turning the key to the ON position.

8. Mercedes

The front passenger airbag of a Mercedes-Benz car will turn off if the front passenger airbag sensor detects that the person sitting in it is not heavy enough. It thinks deploying the airbag in case of a crash will be unsafe for that person.

You can disable the front airbag of a Mercedes by turning it off. The car has an on and off switch in the glove box, on the dashboard side, or on the dashboard itself.

You have to open the passenger door to access this switch. You also need a special key to turn the switch to the On or Off position.

9. Ford

In a Ford vehicle, the front passenger airbag will turn off if the weight of the person occupying the front seat is very low. The airbag sensor senses a person sitting on the front seat, but their weight is not enough to safely deploy the airbag. So, the system is off.

But you can activate the front airbag system by using the activation switch. On Ford vehicles, one of the places you will find this switch is in the glove box. Look for the deactivation lock.

Then insert your car key, and turn it until the white indicator mark points to the ‘OFF’ position. Don’t forget to close the glove box when you’re done.

Again, why is the passenger airbag off light on? This airbag off light will turn on if the person sitting on the passenger seat is light and is not heavy enough to deploy the airbag. But, if you have an adult passenger and the passenger airbag light is still OFF, then ask a mechanic’s help.

How to Troubleshoot Airbag Issues

does the passenger airbag light stay on

Now you know that the airbag warning light should only illuminate when the airbag system has a problem. This light should only turn on for a few seconds after you start the engine and then turns off after a few seconds. It’s how the ECU checks if it is working.

So, if it stays on, it tells you something is going wrong. This warning light will turn on if the airbag has been deployed but was not properly reset. But if it has not been deployed, this warning light will turn on when there’s a problem.

You need to check what causes the sensor not to activate the airbag. After troubleshooting and fixing the issues, you have to reset the airbag warning light so it will continue providing this airbag safety protection for your front passenger.

1. Ask Help from a Mechanic

When the airbag warning light turns on and remains that way, you must bring your car to your trusted mechanic immediately.

They will be able to diagnose the airbag system using their car systems diagnostic tools. The mechanic can make adjustments to the airbag sensor. They can also check the other causes of the airbag system issues.

2. Check the Car’s ECU

Unfortunately, troubleshooting issues that affect the airbag warning light issues is not very easy. Even so, you should not ignore it if this problem crops up. The best person who can examine the possible causes of the problem is a professional mechanic.

The mechanic may use an OBD 2 scanner to check your car’s ECU, where all the data related to your airbag system is stored. If your airbag was not deployed and its warning light stays on, it is likely an ECU problem.

Perhaps, the airbag system is malfunctioning or has been wrongly deactivated. Or probably, there’s nothing wrong with the airbags system, but it’s just that the ECU has made an error.

3. Clear the Problem Before Turning Off the Airbag Warning Light

You need the airbag system working correctly every time you drive your car. So, if there’s a problem with the system, you need to clear that problem first before you can use the system again and before you can turn off the airbag warning light.

In other words, you must clear the airbag ECU before you can use the airbag system again.

If a mechanic has checked the system and saw no problem, the airbag ECU should be removed and have it checked by the dealer or a service company that does this kind of work. More than likely, they will give you a brand new airbag ECU.

4. Don’t Drive Your Car

The first thing you need to do if the airbag warning light stays on is not to drive your car. You are courting disaster because if you drive your vehicle with a faulty airbag system, the airbag may not deploy in the event of a collision. Your front passenger’s life is in danger.

How to Reset Airbag Light

Frequently Asked Questions

This topic will catch the interest of many drivers and passengers because it involves their safety. It may have caught your interest, too, and perhaps you have questions about this subject that you want answered. Just read on, and perhaps you will get your answer in this section:

Why Is the Passenger Airbag Off Light Turning On in the Dashboard?

The Passenger Airbag Off light will turn on if the weight of the person occupying the front passenger seat is very low. Even if this is the case, the airbag weight sensor can still detect a person sitting in the passenger seat.

However, their weight is not heavy enough to justify the deployment of the front airbag. The sensor thinks it will be unsafe for that person to have the airbag inflated on their face and body.

Should the Passenger Airbag Light Be On or Off?

During normal operations of the vehicle, the airbag system should be on. If the system is on, the OFF light will not be illuminated. It still means that the system is activated. But when a person who has not reached the weight threshold of the system sits on the front seat, the OFF light will turn on.

This only means that the front airbag will not deploy because the weight sensor has detected that the person sitting in the front seat does not have enough weight, making the airbag’s deployment unsafe for that person.

How Does the Front Passenger Airbag System Work?

The front passenger airbag system works automatically. When a person of enough wait sits on the front passenger seat, the system will automatically activate.

The system will also automatically turn off if the weight sensor detects that the person occupying the front passenger seat does not have enough weight to deploy the airbag safely.

Is It Safe to Drive with the Airbag Warning Light On?

If the airbag warning light turns on and you have a person of adequate weight sitting in the front passenger seat, there is a problem with your airbag system. The risk is high because if there’s an accident, the airbag may not inflate.

The recommendation is to have your airbag system checked and repaired before you can drive your car again. This light is an important warning that you should not take lightly.

In Closing: Why Is My Passenger Airbag Off Light On?

There will be instances when a car’s passenger airbag off light will turn on. It will be triggered automatically when an adult of sufficient weight sits in the passenger seat and is detected by the sensor.

This warning light will also turn on if the passenger sitting on the front seat is lightweight to deploy the airbag.

Usually, when you start your car, the passenger airbag off light will turn on. The reason is that your car’s ECU checks all the systems used, including the airbag system. If there’s no problem with this system, its light will turn off in a few seconds.