What Does The Airbag Light Mean In My Car - Capitol Toyota Service

Airbags are a crucial safety feature that have proven remarkably effective. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, frontal air bags can reduce driver fatalities in frontal crashes by as much as 29% and passenger fatalities by up to 32%. When driving  an SUV, side airbags can reduce your risk of death by a whopping 52%! That's why, if your airbag warning light comes on, you should take action right away. Head to Capitol Toyota to have this important safety system looked over by the experts.

Here are 5 things we think you should know when the airbag light comes on in your vehicle:

A graphic of a man wearing a seatbelt with an airbag in front of him is the symbol for the vehicle's SRS system

5. Your Airbags May Not Deploy In The Event Of A Crash

The airbag light is an indicator that there is a problem with the vehicle's Supplemental Restraint System. This system includes various crash sensors and the airbags themselves. When this light comes on, it indicates that a problem has been detected in the system, and one or more airbags may not inflate in the event of a collision. While it's possible that all the airbags could work as intended even with an SRS warning light, a failure in the airbags is a significant safety concern. We recommend proceeding carefully to the Capitol Toyota service center right away when this light comes on.

Problems with the seat belt buckles and pretensioners can also be indicated by the airbag warning light

4. Your Seatbelts Could Be The Problem

In addition to the sensors and airbags, the SRS system on your vehicle also includes the seatbelt pretensioners. When a sudden forward momentum is detected on the seatbelt, such as in a forward collision, the seatbelt pretensioners engage to hold you tightly to the seat. This can keep you from striking the airbag, steering wheel or dashboard and sustaining injury. Next, a force limiter will reduce the strain of the tensioned seatbelt on the occupant's chest, while still holding the occupant in a safe space. A problem with the seatbelt pretensioners will also be indicated by the airbag warning light. This is yet another reason to get expert help with any problems in your vehicle's SRS system.

3. Your Crash Sensors May Need To Be Replaced

It's not uncommon for an SRS system problem to develop shortly after a minor crash in which the airbags did not deploy. One reason for this is a crash sensor that was triggered, but did not result in the airbags going off.

This steering wheel features an airbag, indicated by the SRS marking

When an airbag crash sensor detects rapid deceleration, such as in a collision, it immediately sends a signal to the SRS computer. The SRS computer then uses that signal, along with data from the seat belts and vehicle movement, to determine which airbags to deploy. If the crash sensor was triggered, but the airbags themselves didn't deploy, you may simply need to have that crash sensor replaced. Crash sensors aren't designed for multiple uses.

2. You May Have A Wiring/Electrical Fault

If your airbag light is not due to a bad airbag sensor, there may be a wiring fault in the system, or even a problem with the SRS computer itself. Since diagnosing the SRS system requires advanced tools and know-how, we always recommend heading to an authorized Toyota service center when you need repairs to this system.

1. Do Not Reset The Airbag Light Yourself

It can be tempting to ignore this light when it comes on, and there are plenty of online guides that promise to help you reset the SRS warning light. However, we don't recommend this.

For one, merely resetting the light is akin to putting your head in the sand -- there may still be a severe problem with the SRS system that could compromise your safety in a major collison. Another reason we don't recommend resetting the light is it makes future repairs more difficult and more costly. When the airbag light is on, it indicates that the SRS computer is storing a trouble code that can tell a certified Toyota technician with the proper tools exactly where the problem is. Resetting the SRS warning light will scrub this code from the system. This could complicate repairs down the road.

Instead, we invite you to our service center at Capitol Toyota where we can diagnose and repair any airbag issues you may have. We can check to make sure your vehicle is up-to-date on all recalls and safety bulletins, too. We take your safety as seriously as you do.

Similar Articles

Schedule service online at Capitol Toyota
Order parts online at Capitol Toyota


Capitol Toyota

783 Auto Group Avenue Ne
Directions Salem, OR 97301

  • Sales: 503-399-1011
  • Service: 503-399-1011
  • Parts: 503-399-1011