Safety first: Top 5 symptoms of a falling airbag sensors

Sep 12, 2019 | Same topic: Best advice for car buyers
The different symptoms of a bad air sensor which will help you identify if the car's airbag is faulty and malfunctioning and ways to address them.

It’s mandatory that every vehicle is equipped with airbags. It is the most important safety feature of a car and as a driver and/or car owner, you should see to it that airbags are fully functioning and in good working condition.

According to research, front airbags have already saved more than 40,000 lives since it was launched way back in the 1970s. The job of a front airbag is to protect the driver and front passenger from the possible head and bodily injury if collision or accidents occur.

airbag sensor

There are symptoms of a bad air sensor which will identify if the car's airbag is faulty and malfunctioning

Lots of drivers are complaining about the airbag light of their vehicle blinking for no reason. Some of them often ignore it which leaves the drivers and the car's passenger in extreme danger if ever the car is involved in a collision or car crash and the airbag failed to engage.

This article from Philkotse.com will discuss the symptoms of a bad air sensor which will help you identify if the car's airbag is faulty and malfunctioning.

Knowing the signs of a malfunctioning airbag sensor is beneficial in ensuring your safety and the safety of the passenger inside your car. You will be able to detect if something is wrong with your airbag system and you will be able to address the problem accordingly.

What is an airbag sensor?

Basically, the sensor is a device used to detect and read rapid deceleration of the car and generate a signal as a response. 

The basic function of the airbag sensor is to communicate the information electronically with the ECU and all the components related to the airbag system. The collision’s intensity is also gathered and utilized as a determiner whether the airbag should engage or not.

Wires of airbag sensor

The basic function of the airbag sensor is to communicate the information electronically with the ECU

 

There are two main kinds of airbag sensor. The first one is known as the mass-type sensor which is often placed in the car’s front part to measure a noticeable impact. Most of the time, it has two sensors. First is placed inside the engine and the other one is mounted in the passenger seating area.

The second type is referred to as the roller-type sensor which usually has a coil spring component attached with some weight. When the car hits an object, it generates an impact and the weight is moved to the other direction and tension will be experienced by the coil spring.

The coil spring’s movement and the tension are capable of recording the intensity. An electrical signal to the circuit will be consequently generated.

Symptoms of a failing airbag sensor

Every time you put on the keys and start the car’s engine, the airbag control computer of the vehicle will test the airbag sensor circuit and checks if it’s still functioning properly. You can easily tell if the sensor is functioning if the airbag warning light on the dashboard is illuminating every time you start the vehicle.

But, if the airbag warning light stays illuminated after starting the vehicle, this is an indication of an airbag sensor problem. Here are some of the signs of a bad airbag sensor you need to look out for.

1. Airbag light

The most common and most obvious symptom to determine a failing airbag sensor is the airbag light lit up or flashing on the dashboard. This indicates that the function of the airbag is disabled.

Most of the time, the airbag warning light flashes in a particular pattern, for instance, the indicator light blinks two times then pauses then blinks again three times in a continuous manner, it indicates code “23”. To know more about these particular codes, you should refer to the car manual.

airbag light

The most obvious symptom to determine a failing airbag sensor is an illuminating airbag light

2. Checking with the use of a diagnostic tool

You can use a diagnostic scan tool to inspect and check the airbag sensor. This is the best way to determine if the airbag sensor of your vehicle is malfunctioning.

You have to bring your vehicle to a professional mechanic who knows how to utilize the tool to find out what exactly is causing the trouble. Remember not to use a multimeter when testing the airbags because you will only end up deploying them.

diagnostic scan tool

You can use a diagnostic scan tool to inspect and check the airbag sensor

3. Depleted airbag battery backup

If the battery of your car was drained just recently, there are higher chances that you also have a depleted airbag battery which is the main cause why the airbag warning light is flashing on your dashboard. You can easily resolve this problem by fully recharging the battery of your vehicle again. But you have to take note that you are still required to remove the soft-code error using the diagnostic scan tool.

4. Malfunctioning airbag clock springs

The airbag clock spring is responsible for maintaining the consistency between the electrical wiring and the airbag by continuously intertwining in and out against the steering wheel. After some time, the circuit bands will start to wear out, causing the airbag system to inscribe a code error.

In turn, this will lead to the flashing if airbag light in your dashboard. The problem is the clock spring is pretty difficult to diagnose at home, which means you have to bring your vehicle to an auto repair specialist who can determine the root cause of the issue by using a diagnostic scan tool. Replacement is needed if the issue is detected in the clock spring.

airbag clock spring

The job of airbag clock spring is to maintain the consistency between the electrical wiring and the airbag

5. Damaged airbag module

Over time, the airbag module gets damaged. You can find the airbag module under the front passenger seat or the driver’s seat. Once exposed to water or even just light moisture, the airbag module will start to corrode which will lead to a short circuit.

If this happens, the DTC code will be generated which is the main reason why the airbag light on the dashboard is illuminating.

Airbag module

You can find the airbag module under the front passenger seat or the driver’s seat

>>> For your information: Seatbelts and Airbags: The ins and outs.

Understanding the airbag sensors

Airbag sensors are also called crash sensors. These sensors are situated everywhere in the car. The locations will vary depending on the car make and model. Its main job is to detect a crash or collision and engage the airbags.

Usually, airbag sensors are located at the front part of the car to easily detect the frontal collision and also on the car's side to detect side impact. Modern vehicles have multiple sensors. The total number of sensors depends on the number of airbags offered by the car model.

Source: Hanna Miel Sanchez