Frequently Asked Questions about Airbags.

Q. What do I need to replace when my airbags deploy?

  • From 1989-1993: you will need to replace only the drivers airbag and either reprogram or replace the control module and replace damaged impact sensors and clockspring. (If Needed)
    How driver airbags work?
  • From 1994-2000: (roughly) By now most cars come equipped with both drivers and passenger airbag and therefore both must be replaced. You must also reprogram or replace the controls module and replace damaged impact sensors and clockspring. (If Needed) How passenger airbags work?
  • From 2001-Present: Manufactures began to implement dual stage deployment airbags (smart airbags) along with seat, side, curtain, knee and foot airbags. Also, seat belt pre-tensioners were developed and are now a regular part of the SRS system.
    • With the advent of smart airbags the only airbags that deploy is determined by the placement of the occupants in the car and on which side of the vehicle the impact occurred.
      • (Varies by model) Head-on collision requires that you replace both front airbags and either reprogram or replace the control module. As well as replace damaged impact sensors and clock-spring (If Needed.) Both seat belts will also need to be replaced. As well as knee and foot airbags if equipped on your vehicle.
      • (Varies by model) Impacts that involve side collision will require in addition to the above side airbags and curtain airbags when equipped on your vehicle.

Q. Why is my airbag light flashing?

The flashing air bag light indicates that the restraint control module, which includes the sensors, has identified a fault in the system and has deactivated the air bag and pretensioners. A scan tool can interrogate the system to identify the specific fault code. In fact, the next time you turn on the key, watch the air bag light and try to determine the "lamp fault code" it's flashing. The "LFC" sequence might help you identify the specific problem with the system. For example, a sequence of one flash followed by six flashes indicates a problem with the passenger-side air bag.

Q. I only want to replace the drivers airbag. Can I do that?

First of all, anytime any component of the SRS system in your car is missing the airbag light will indicate that your airbags are not active. Second, leaving an open circuit (connectors not connected) can cause a faulty ground and accidentally activate the airbag that is installed, even while you are driving. Therefore, all of the airbag components must be reinstalled to factory specifications.

Q. Do I have to replace the clock-spring?

The clock-spring is also referred to as the coil spring. It's job is to provide electrical continuity as the steering wheel is rotated. When the drivers airbag is deployed the chemical reaction that occurs heats the gas cylinder and the connector from the clock-spring is melted. If this happens, then you have no choice and the clock-spring must be replaced. However, newer style connectors survive the heat transfer and therefore, the clock-spring can be recycled. So, in order to determine whether you need to replace your clock spring or not. You must remove the driver side airbag and see if the connector attached to the airbag cylinder is melted and fused together. Furthermore, all connectors that attach to airbag components have a locking mechanism and therefore, you must remove the lock prior to separating the male and female connectors.

Q. Do I have to replace my control module?

The control module is also known as the 591, airbag computer, diagnostic unit, DERM-unit, diagnostic sensor, and some others. However, regardless of what you call it, after an accident the control module must either be replaced or reprogrammed. However, in most Chrysler models the control module will reset it-self after you have replaced all the airbags in your vehicle. Therefore, the comments above apply to all other manufacturers.

Q. Are the vinyl covers included with the purchase of my airbags?

The driver side airbag always includes the vinyl cover, however, some manufacturers have incorporated the passenger airbag underneath the dash. This type of passenger airbag is referred to as an "Inner bag" and the dash is sold separate from the passenger airbag. Although the majority of passenger airbags do include the cover many new models require that the whole dashboard be replaced.

Q. Does the price of the airbags include the control module?

As with most companies all parts are sold separately and the airbag control modules is not included with the price of any airbag purchased.