Airbag light on

Tiny
SZALKUSKT
  • MEMBER
  • 1993 TOYOTA CAMRY
  • 2.2L
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 107,000 MILES
Read codes and got a code 22 and changed the center airbag module under the console and cleared codes turned on key and now getting a code 14. I checked the clock spring with an ohmmeter and there is constant continuity even while turning the wheel. I do not think it is the clock spring, and I do not think the center airbag module is bad, but, because I am getting the code 14, open in squib circuit, I believe the actual airbag has a resistance problem or open. How can I check the resistance of the airbag itself and also what exactly should the resistance be? I have seen on the internet where if you put a resistor of proper value in place of a faulty airbag, the light will go out because the ecm now senses proper resistance. I need help troubleshooting the airbag on the steering wheel I think now.
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Saturday, June 4th, 2016 AT 12:55 AM

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Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
STOP! Most ohm meters run on four double "A" batteries or a nine volt transistor battery. We use nine volt batteries to light off an air bag for demonstrations. An ohm meter will do the same thing.

Also, if you unplug the air bag or the squib, every bright yellow connector has a shorting bar in it to short the two wires together. That is to make the air bag immune to static discharge while the circuit is being serviced or the air bag is being handled. If you are measuring between two connectors, one part is going to have that shorting bar.

No one I know has ever tried to measure a clock spring, which goes against normal procedures. We normally want to verify a part is defective before we order a replacement, but in this case, given the age of the car and the mileage, a bad clock spring can be expected. The wiring is real reliable, so unless a connector has been damaged, don't go looking for something obscure. If the fault code was related to an open squib, replace the clock spring. The additional clue is anything else on the steering wheel will also fail shortly. Typically that is the horn and cruise control. Once the ribbon cable starts to break near one end, all of the circuits will become open real soon.
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Saturday, June 4th, 2016 AT 1:25 AM
Tiny
SZALKUSKT
  • MEMBER
Okay, let me investigate it further. Thanks, I appreciate your concern of me working on the airbag. I know that the ohmmeter can trigger the airbag so during all of my circuit trouble shooting the actual airbag on the steering wheel was removed/unplugged and set aside and there are not any more than that one, ie, on the dash. As far as the clock spring, I can see the shorting bars on the connector end where it plugs into the other connector on the lower steering column. I do not see any shorting bars on the connector that actually snaps into the back of the airbag. I will look at it further and let you know. The horn and cruise controls were working fine at the time of my airbag problem. The only thing I was doing to the car before this happened was evac and charging the air conditioner system and replacing the receiver drier on the front drivers side. I will look at my clock-spring and get back with you. Historically has the airbag in the steering wheel on these cars been known to go bad? Thanks, and trust me I am being careful with the airbag. Your thoughts?
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Saturday, June 4th, 2016 AT 10:20 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Air bag failure is pretty much unheard of. The shorting bars are only in places that a lack of them would leave the bag susceptible to static discharge. That means you'll find one inside the connector on the back of the air bag assembly, but one isn't needed on the wire coming out of the clock spring. Similarly, the wire traveling up the steering column is plugged in either on back of the clock spring or at the base of the steering column. In that connector, if you unplug it, the top half has the terminals going to the air bag, so that will have the shorting bar. There's no need for a shorting bar on the lower part that goes to the computer module.

With the air bag set aside, you can safely measure continuity of the squib, or "initiator" wire. If you have tilt steering wheel, moving it repeatedly can cause those wires to break and make intermittent contact. Be sure to move the steering wheel up and down while taking those readings.

If the car was crashed in the past, usually the connector at the back of the air bag melts from the heat of the burning rocket fuel, and that requires replacing the clock spring. If it didn't melt, and someone reused it, check for deformed terminals that aren't making good contact. Be aware too that around that time period, a lot of fault codes for the squib referred simply to a "shorted OR open" condition. A melted or deformed plastic finger on the connector could fail to move the shorting bar away from the terminals. That would cause a shorted condition. To measure for a shorted squib with an ohm meter you have to push the shorting bar away from the terminals.

Also, most Air Bag Computers will shut the system down permanently during that key cycle when an intermittent problem is detected. The problem may correct itself during 99 percent of the time, including while you're taking measurements. In that case, the fault code is all you have to go on This is where we just replace the clock spring as it's the only logical cause of an open squib. We will guess wrong so seldom that in those rare cases, the additional time we need for diagnostics is tiny compared to the time we didn't waste on all the other cars.
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Saturday, June 4th, 2016 AT 2:24 PM

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