Picture this; you’re rushing to work one morning when you notice a red light flashing on your dashboard. A closer look and you see the initials ‘SRS’ under the light. You decide to park on the roadside to investigate what the problem could be.

Since the car appears to drive okay, the first thing that comes to your mind is the seatbelts. Are you well strapped in? Yes. So, why is my airbag light on and is it safe to continue driving?

In this article, we discuss how airbags work, what it means if the airbag light is on, and whether you should continue driving if this happens.

What is an SRS Warning Light?

A car comes with many systems, one of them being the supplemental restraint system (SRS). The SRS is designed to complement your seatbelts and usually appears when danger strikes. Its main function is to control your car’s airbags.

The SRS is an additional safety mechanism that is equipped with sensors. The sensors are strategically placed inside the car and programmed to detect any abrupt or dramatic deceleration, particularly a collision. The sensors then send an electrical charge to the airbags after detecting the violent impact that causes them to inflate immediately.

Depending on your car’s model and the system’s complexity, the number of airbags can be six or more. Cars manufactured after 2014 come with at least ten airbags.

What Causes the Airbag Light to Appear?

Usually, every time you start your car, the SRS symbol and dashboard lights appear briefly and then disappear after less than a minute. This is a built-in self-test mechanism that allows the system to perform its own health check.

An SRS warning light turns on if one of the components in the system such as the seat belt system, wires or airbags is faulty. We take a look at some of the common causes below.

Defective crash sensor that requires resetting

If you were involved in an accident that wasn’t serious enough to deploy the airbags, the SRS warning light may appear constantly. The accident may have triggered the crash sensors causing the airbag light to become illuminated. You will need to visit your local garage for the airbags to be reset.

Faulty seatbelt switch

Your airbag light may be triggered because of a problem with your seatbelt sensors. The sensors that help to detect if you are well strapped in can become faulty.

Faulty airbag clock spring

The spring coils present in your steering wheel are designed to ensure continuity between the airbags and the wiring. The circuit bands allow the steering wheel to function effectively while maintaining the connection to its electrical system and airbags. Due to wear and tear, these circuit bands can get worn out, causing the airbag light to appear.

Depleted battery

The SRS system has its own battery that is charged by the car’s main battery. The battery is designed in such a way that it works during emergencies such as collisions. If the car’s main cattery is depleted or faulty, this will have a negative impact on the SRS battery, including triggering the airbag light. Replacing your battery should easily resolve this issue and make your SRS light go away.

Corroded sensors

If you drive your car during floods, there’s a risk of sustaining water damage that could corrode your sensors. Corroded sensors are another reason that could trigger your airbag light to illuminate.

What Should I Do If the SRS Light is On?

When the airbag light is on, it means that there could be a serious issue that potentially makes your car unsafe to drive. The SRS is a form of safety net and so when it flickers, you’re basically gambling with your life.

What’s more, it means that one of the most important safety features of your car is not functioning at full capacity which puts you at a risk.

So, is it safe to continue driving if the SRS light is on? Absolutely not.

Even though the car is still safe to drive, driving with the airbag light on is considered a huge risk. The roads are full of unexpected surprises and the risk of endangering your life is just not worth it.

When your SRS light goes on, it’s advisable that a professional mechanic looks at your vehicle and runs a diagnostic test to determine the cause. You want to drive a car with airbags that are working at full capacity to be sure you’re safe.

How Much Does it Cost to Fix This Problem?

As with any car repair, it’s not possible to know the exact cost until the cause of the light staying on has been known.

For example, your airbag light could be caused by a faulty sensor or switch. In that case, the estimated cost of repair per sensor could range between $250 and $350.

If the issue is more serious and the airbags have been deployed or require to be replaced, then the cost can go as high as $1000-1500 depending on the car model.

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