How do the airbags work?

Airbags are a safety feature that is now compulsory in vehicles. Since their introduction in the 1980s, airbags have saved thousands of lives.

If the airbag sensor detects an impact, the airbags will immediately inflate, protecting the driver and passengers from harm. The airbag inflates with nitrogen gas, causing it to burst out of the steering wheel/dash and cushion the impact of the collision. It then deflates, allowing the driver/passenger to recover from the impact. 


Causes of airbag problems

If there is a problem in your airbag system, the airbag/SRS light will turn on. The airbag light can point to several problems, with many of these problems causing your airbags not to work in an accident.

Common reason for an illuminated airbag/SRS light include:

Faulty wiring – Faulty or damaged wiring can affect your airbag’s ability to properly deploy when it needs to. This is due to a lack of electrical connectivity between components.

Damaged clockspring – The clockspring is a rotary electrical connector that allows the steering wheel to turn while maintaining a connection with the airbag and horn.

Problems with the seatbelt switch – In many cases, the airbag light also doubles as a seatbelt warning light. With many modern vehicles, a seatbelt switch detects if you are wearing a seatbelt, and will beep and/or display warning lights if you are not. A faulty seatbelt switch can cause this light to appear, even if you have your seatbelt on.

Faulty front passengers seat weight sensor – the airbag front passengers seat weight sensor detects the weight of a person sitting in the front passengers seat. If the weight is under a certain limit the airbag will not be deployed in a crash, as a child  can be injured by the force of the airbag. Sometimes if you put something heavy on your front passengers seat, you car will beep or flash lights at you, warning that it has detected someone in the front seat, without their safety belt on.

Defective airbag sensors – The airbag sensors can be triggered without properly deploying the airbag. In cases like this, the airbag will need to be properly reset. 

Defective Takata Airbags – many different vehicle makes from around the world have been fitted with defective airbags made by Takata. These faulty airbags can send shrapnel into your body when they deploy in a crash, causing serious injuries or death. At the time of writing there have been around 15 deaths in America and 1 in Australia caused by these faulty airbags.

If your vehicle is one of the 50,000+ vehicles in New Zealand that has faulty Takata airbags then you should talk to your local dealership about booking it in to get them replaced.  You can find out which cars are affect and more information at Takata Airbag Recall


What to do if the airbag light comes on?

If the airbag light illuminates, we suggest that you take your vehicle to your trusted mechanic immediately. You may have to pay for a few hours of labour and for some parts, but a functioning airbag can save your life. 

Airbag Diagnostics & Replacement in Hamilton

At Grimmer Motors, we can provide quality, reliable, effective airbag diagnostics.

Our advanced scanning tools are able to read warning lights in your vehicle, allowing us to quickly diagnose airbag problems. We can then replace your airbags so that they function as they should in an emergency. 

For airbag/SRS warning light diagnostics in Hamilton, contact Grimmer Motors today!


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