If your airbag light flashes or doesn’t turn off, you may be wondering if driving with an airbag light on is illegal (and safe).
The short answer is driving with an airbag light isn’t illegal, but it’s unsafe as this means the airbag will not deploy in an accident.
This article will cover all you need to know about driving with an airbag light on. Keep reading to learn more!
Is an Airbag Light Flashing Illegal?
Light flashing in an airbag is not illegal, but it’s a sign that something is not working. Your seat belt system or the airbag may need repair.
When the airbag light is on, you must stop driving and check broken wires and the control unit.
It’s advisable to repair your airbags every ten years, as wiring systems and control units wear down after several years. A faulty airbag system could lead to severe injuries during an accident.
Is it Illegal To Drive Without Airbags in the US?
Currently, no laws state that driving without airbags in the US is illegal. Most cars manufactured before 1989 don’t have airbags.
Can You Pass an Inspection With the Airbag Light On?
In most states, your car will pass a standard safety inspection if the airbag light is on (as long as this is the only problem with the airbag), and you will get a warning sign.
But, in some states, you will have to repair the airbag system immediately.
In some circumstances, authorities will flag the airbag light as a safety hazard.
For instance, Virginia, Maine, and Massachusetts enhanced inspection regulations require the airbag light off. The state safety inspector flags your vehicle as unsafe to drive because the light means the airbag is damaged. So, you need to make sure the indicator is not broken; otherwise, your car will fail the inspection.
However, most state requirements only apply to the driver’s airbag. If the passenger’s airbag is damaged, you’ll likely pass a safety inspection.
Be aware that turning off the airbag light isn’t a solution. Ask the mechanic to fix the issue to prevent further damage to the airbag.
Why Your Airbag Light Won’t Turn Off
Here are several reasons why your airbag light won’t turn off.
A drained battery is the main reason your airbag light won’t turn off. When you recharge the battery, the light should turn off. If this doesn’t happen, a scan tool will help you remove the code error.
Make sure the backup battery is not drained, too.
When the battery depletes, the airbag system reports a fault. If the battery does not work even after recharging, have your battery checked by a mechanic. You may have to reset it or replace the sensors.
The wires on the airbag might be damaged, especially when the seat moves backward and forward. Check if the plug is disconnected, as this can harm your airbag.
Keep in mind that repairing airbag wiring is allowed, but the repair should be in the vehicle harness. Avoid repairing pigtail wires connecting the sensors.
In addition, you shouldn’t modify the SRS wiring harness. Instead, you need to replace it with a new one.
To connect an airbag wire, follow the steps below:
- Remove the piece from the connector.
- Connect the wires and ensure they don’t touch each other.
- Test to see if the connection is correct.
Wet or Corroded Control Module
The control module is located underneath the seats and will corrode if exposed to water. A corroded control module won’t work correctly.
Make sure to replace the module immediately to prevent continued errors on the airbag.
Faulty Clock Spring
The airbag clock spring maintains the driver’s seat airbag and wiring. The clock spring features circuit bands that wear over time, causing an error in the airbag control module. A bad clock spring may leave you without a working horn and cruise control.
Common signs of a faulty clock spring include:
- Noise from the steering column
- SRS illumination
- No sound when you hit the horn
If you notice a flashing light, take the clock spring to the repair shop for a replacement.
Is it Safe To Drive With an Airbag Light On?
It’s not advisable to drive with an airbag light on because the airbag will not work correctly in an accident. An airbag light that does not turn off is a strong warning you must correct as soon as possible.
An airbag light indicates that parts of the supplemental restraint system are not working. SRS consists of sensors that detect accidents so airbags can deploy and reduce deaths.
The system deactivates the airbags when it’s not working correctly.
How Much Does it Cost To Fix the Airbag Light?
Fixing an airbag light will cost you around $600. Resetting the airbag light takes several hours, depending on the car model. Some manufacturers like BMW charge at least $1000 to replace airbag lights.
Be ready to part away with $350 if you want the clock spring replaced.
Remember that the mechanic will remove the whole dash to fix the airbag. That’s why some people prefer selling the vehicle instead of replacing the airbag.
Where To Get the Airbag Light Checked
To get the airbag light check, you should hire a mechanic, preferably one specializing in your vehicle model. The professional will help you diagnose the cause of the airbag problem and will provide a report showing the cost of airbag repairs.
Looking for a top-rated mobile mechanic to scan the airbag system is essential. Choose a professional who explains the issue when servicing the vehicle.
The airbag diagnostic tests will ensure the sensors and circuits are functioning well.
An airbag light that won’t turn off most likely indicates a damaged airbag that needs to be repaired.
However, sometimes the light will flash or be on when there are no other issues, and resetting the airbag light could fix the problem.
In any case, you should take care of this problem as soon as possible. Driving with an airbag light that won’t turn off means the airbag won’t deploy in case of an accident, putting your –and your loved ones–safety at risk.