After replacing the clock spring, the Airbag light will not turn off?

  • 2.0L
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • 182,000 MILES
The clock spring on my car was replaced. Everything on the steering wheel works good now; but the air bag light won't turn off, what can I do?
Do you
have the same problem?
Tuesday, January 24th, 2023 AT 12:04 PM

1 Reply

The most common failure is the wound-up ribbon cable in the clock spring breaks at one end. The Air Bag Computer detects the break in the circuit for the "squib" or "initiator" circuit. That's the circuit that fires the air bag. It sets a diagnostic fault code, turns the system off, and turns the warning light on to tell you.

Even though the rest of the circuits are working now, that fault code is still stored in the Air Bag Computer. Fault codes in other computers typically self-erase, either right away or after roughly 50 engine starts, but this usually isn't the case with safety systems like anti-lock brakes and air bags. To add to the misery, sometimes those codes won't erase by disconnecting the battery. They may only be able to be erased with a scanner or a code reader with the "erase" capability. The most basic, inexpensive code readers, typically costing under about $30.00, usually only read codes in Engine Computers. You'll need to find one that specifies it can read codes in Air Bag, or "SRS", (supplemental restraint system) Computers. The alternative is to find a mechanic with a scanner to erase the codes. That job just takes a few minutes, but there's often a minimum charge to help pay for the expensive tool and the really expensive annual updates. If the clock spring job was done by a professional, erasing the codes should have been part of the job.

Replacing the clock spring usually specifies disconnecting the battery, but be aware a few manufacturers have purposely designed in a trick that locks up some of the computers when doing that. Unlocking them has to be done by the dealer after towing the vehicle there. If you know your battery was disconnected during the clock spring service, or you know for sure doing that won't cause a problem, do that first for a couple of minutes to see if the "Air Bag" warning light turns off. Normal operation is for it to turn on for six seconds when you turn on the ignition switch as a bulb check, then turn off and stay off. If it does that, the fault codes have been erased.
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Tuesday, January 24th, 2023 AT 2:01 PM

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