SRS Light: What Is This Light On My Dash, And Why Is It Blinking?

by Conner Mckay

Whether you are a car enthusiast or not, if you own a car, you should certainly know what the majority of dashboard lights mean. If the SRS light activates as you drive, it indicates that there is a problem with the airbag system in your car. It also implies that if your car is in an accident, the airbags might not even deploy. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out how dangerous that can be.

An airbag is referred to as a passive safety feature since it does not demand any effort from the driver to deploy. However, the equipment and methods utilized to induce airbag deployment have become increasingly complicated over time.

There are several different kinds of airbags in modern automobiles, and they all need precisely configured sensors to activate.

If the SRS light on your car comes on, take it to a mechanic as soon as possible to have the SRS sensor inspected. This feature is designed to help avoid any needless deployment of the car’s SRS system. But that does not mean the system would not need to be checked on a regular basis.

Airbags are meant to shield passengers from harm, and automakers have made some improvements on their initial airbag deployment over the years. But the airbags would fail to deploy on time if the sensors fail. If the SRS light on the dashboard activates, do not dismiss it.

What Is SRS?

The word SRS stands for Supplemental Restraint System, which is the technical name for a vehicle’s airbag system. The SRS is a passive safety device and does not require any manual operating.

SRS Light

Airbag systems date back to 1952, although they did not become more widespread in automobiles until the 1970s. Airbag deployment technologies have evolved and changed throughout the years. Today’s SRS systems are far more complex than the initial devices, including algorithms and activation systems that aid in reducing needless deployment.

SRS Light System: How Does It Work?

You can understand the issues with the SRS light rather easily if you have a basic grasp of the airbag system. Even though the configurations differ across vehicles, a few important elements are common with them all. Please note that these parts are often referred to by multiple names based on the manufacturer.

Airbag Module

This module houses the airbag along with the inflator component. Most automobiles now feature multiple airbags and, as a result, many of these units.

SRS System

This is the computer that controls the airbag technology.

Airbag Sensors

Typically, numerous sensors evaluate circumstances to detect a collision situation. In the incident of a crash, the airbag sensors will send a crash report to the SRS module. The airbags will then be deployed by the unit.


A cable that lets the steering wheel rotate while maintaining electrical contact with the airbag system.

SRS Light is On

When a car’s inbuilt computer determines that the system will not work properly or will perform above its authorized capability, the SRS light will flicker on. If the computer senses an impact, the SRS system will deploy airbags and cinch passenger seat belts.

Based on the type of vehicle, your system may also turn off the gasoline pump and unplug the battery to decrease the chance of fire upon crashing. When the SRS warning light flashes, it signifies that your seat belt will be the sole safety system protecting you in case there is a crash.

There is no way to foresee the driving behaviors of other people on the road, despite how cautious of a driver you might be.

Aside from the possible harm to you and the other passengers in the car, a deactivated SRS system does not represent an immediate hazard. It will not cause your car to shut off.  However, if the SRS light is indeed on, you should never dismiss it in the hope that it will go away on its own.

The SRS system is designed to protect you from unlikely crashes; therefore it is critical that you devote the time, energy, and money to locating a reputable technician to address the problem.

A thorough diagnosis may take some time since the technician will need to do comprehensive inspections of the unit and electrical components.

How Airbag System Works

The SRS or airbag in a vehicle is a complex system that comes with its own computer. This computer employs a one-of-a-kind network of sensors to identify a variety of events, such as brakes, passenger seats, deceleration, and much more.

If the system detects a major frontal collision, the computer would clamp the seat belts to keep the occupants of the car firmly in place.

The system then sends another signal to the front airbags. An electrical charge will cause chemicals in the airbag detonator to activate, forcing pressurized nitrogen gas to inflate the airbags in less than a second.

Car airbag systems

As it pushes closer, the airbag will deploy and function as a cushion around your head to protect you from imminent hard. The airbag will collapse instantly after completely absorbing the blow. In case of any side hits, the side airbags would also be deployed. In the instance that your car actually flips over, it will stay inflated for much longer. It is important that the SRS and airbags act together flawlessly.

The system also might incorporate a black box recorder, which records all pertinent data for up to 20 seconds before the crash. It is kind of similar to the black box seen in air crafts.

Why Is The SRS Light On?

Seatbelt Latch

Sensors in the SRS detect as the seat belts are buckled. If something has lodged in the buckle, it may be obstructing the connection. To resolve the issue, remove any foreign items from the seat belt buckle. If you cannot find anything hindering in the path, use compressed air to blow into the buckle.

Passenger Seat Sensor

The car’s front passenger seat includes a sensor that detects when someone is seated in it and how much weight is put there. If the occupant in the seat is an adult, this instructs the SRS to deploy the passenger airbag. If this sensor fails to function properly, it may cause the airbag light to glow.

To resolve this issue, have a technician verify that the wire connector is stable, the wiring is undamaged, and the seat sensor is operational. You might have to fix or replace any broken parts, as well as reset the system if necessary.

Airbag System Issues

This is among the most typical causes of an SRS light to illuminate. It can be because of any malfunction with the crash sensors. Other reason includes that the car may have been in an accident that triggered the airbags, but the light remained on even after they were depleted.

In some cases, the problem might lie with the airbags themselves. Maybe they were damaged in a previous accident or they are malfunctioning on their own. If that happens, you should consider getting an airbag replacement.


The clock spring is an electrical connection that can be found inside the steering wheel. Its key duty is to keep the SRS computer connected even when the wheel is spinning. This component, on the other hand, is widely abused. If it fails, the driver’s side airbag may not activate when in an accident. In addition, the SRS light will flash to notify you of the condition.

Depleted Battery Backup

If the car’s battery was drained lately, there is a high chance the backup battery that operates the airbags might also have been depleted. It can self-correct after the battery is completely charged again. But on the off chance that it doesn’t, the backup battery must be recharged and you need to reset the sensor as well.


Your car contains a plethora of sensors that are linked to various components. They communicate directly with the car’s computer system to identify and alert the driver to any possible problems. Sensors can malfunction or be accidentally tripped, causing the airbag warning to light. The sensors need to be inspected, and the system must be reset.

Previous Accident

If the car was in an accident before that activated the crash sensors but did not necessitate the deployment of the airbags, this may cause problems with the SRS. This would lead the lights on the dashboard to flicker on. To resolve this issue, have a technician reset the SRS computer to normal operating conditions.

Or you can try resetting it yourself. Watch this video to get some pointers.

Problem with SRS Computer

Electronic components inside a vehicle, including the SRS computer, can malfunction at any time. A malfunctioning SRS computer can be influenced by a lot of reasons, including overheating, corrosion, stress, and water damage.

Schedule an appointment with a local auto repair shop to get the SRS computer replaced and the overall system reset. You can check the SRS warranty carefully to determine if any of the repair charges are included. If yes, that would help save some bucks.

Is It Safe To Drive With The SRS Light On?

If the airbag or SRS warning light activates, you should never ignore what it means. It does not necessarily imply that the vehicle is unsafe to drive, but doing so can lead to something hazardous.

When this light illuminates, it signifies that the safety system isn’t operating properly, and in some circumstances, it indicates that the airbags are deactivated and therefore, will not deploy if the car gets into an accident.

The question soon surfaces, is it safe to drive a car when the SRS light is on? The answer is, no. Even if the airbags may still inflate with the light turned on, it is a dangerous gamble. There is no way to know for sure if the bags would actually deploy which can be disastrous if the car crashes.

We suggest getting an expert to look at it as soon as possible and determine the problem so that it can be rectified right away.

How To Reset SRS Light?

It is possible to reset an SRS light from the comfort of your own garage. If you know how to do it, you would be saving yourself a trip to the workshop.

The SRS light glows on the control module of a car only after an accident has occurred and the airbag has deployed. However, other factors, like installing a music system, a faulty sensor, or a problem with the airbag system, might prompt the SRS light to glow.

After you’ve completed all repairs, you should be able to reset the SRS light yourself with a portable electronic tool acquired from any auto body shop.

First, insert the key into the ignition and set the switch to “on.”

Second, keep an eye out for the airbag light to illuminate. It will glow for seven seconds before turning off. After it has shut down, instantly turn off the switch and wait for three seconds.

Third, repeat the previous steps.

Finally, start the engine and see if the SRS light comes on. It should remain on for about seven seconds and then flicker off. The light should then stay turned off.

If you follow these steps and see the mentioned results, then you can be sure that the airbag light in your car has reset.

You must remember that turning off the airbag light does not resolve any issues. Rather, the procedure just turns off the warning light until any concerns are resolved.

Only when the essential repairs have been made should you consider resetting the light.

SRS Light: Professional Checkup

When you initially start the car, the SRS light should glow for around five seconds as the system performs a self-test process. If the light turns off, the system is ready to go. If the indicator remains on, then there is a problem with the SRS system. At that time, the system is turned off. If your car gets into an accident, there is a high chance the airbags will not deploy. The other safety features might fail as well.

If the SRS light is lit even after the initial self-test, send the car to a professional workshop to be properly tested and examined. It is a wise choice to look for prospective manufacturer recalls on the car since some airbag system maintenance might well be reimbursed by recalls or warranty claims.

Not everyone knows that the SRS system has a black box similar to that of an airplane. It not only collects data from a crash but also documents how late the SRS system was deactivated because of a malfunction.

If your insurance provider discovers that the SRS system was in a defective state for an extended period of time, they can refuse to pay for any damage, specifically if they conclude that a functioning airbag system might have helped avoid the damages.

If the SRS light on your car dashboard flickers on and just stays on, don’t ignore it. Considering you value the safety of yourself and other occupants in the car, get the light checked as soon as you can. If, unfortunately, your car does face an accident, the passengers can be seriously injured if the safety features fail to work in time.

SRS Light Comes On And Off

As mentioned in the previous section(s), the SRS light in your car flickers on immediately after the engine is on. This is the system’s way of checking everything is in working order. But the light should not stay on longer than a few seconds. After the checkup is done, it should turn off within seven seconds.

But, if the SRS light refuses to shut off or it keeps coming back on persistently, then you know something is wrong. The problem can be caused by several factors. We already covered why an SRS light can stay on. You can either do a diagnosis yourself, considering you are well-familiar with your vehicle system.

If you can pinpoint the issue yourself, great! If not, don’t hesitate to take the car to a workshop. This is not something you should keep on the back burner. Any issue with the SRS light can lead to catastrophic events. We suggest you avoid driving the car until you get the SRS light checked and fixed.

Cost To Repair An SRS Light

The actual cost, like with any automobile repair, will not be determined until the repairs are commenced and the problem has been thoroughly diagnosed. Your airbag system might just have a defective toggle or sensor. If that is indeed the issue, then it would cost around $300-400 for each sensor. This is one of the best-case scenarios.

However, if the car seems to have a more significant problem, then you should start digging deeper into your wallet. Maybe the airbags were deployed in a previous accident and never changed, or maybe you need to replace the airbag system altogether. Any issue such as these would cost a lot more. Each airbag would cost at least a thousand bucks, depending on the manufacturer and workshop.

You can look for payment plans after the diagnostic is finished and you can estimate the repairs. If the car is new and all it requires is a basic crash sensor resetting, then don’t hesitate on spending some money on maintenance. That car will be your mode of transport for a while, so you need it in its best condition.

But, if the car needs some airbags to be replaced, complete with sensors as well, you might possibly spend a lot of money replacing just the airbag system that will not come close to the repair. If the car is rather old, then you should consider selling it rather than spending thousands of dollars on just repairs. The repair cost can end up more than the actual value of the car.

DIY: OBD2 Scanner

Solving the SRS light problem can be an easy feat if you know what to do. You can play mechanic yourself and fix the SRS light. You can use an OBD2 scanner for the task. This approach is less expensive than taking the automobile to a mechanic.

An OBD2 scanner is a gadget that connects to your vehicle’s OBD2 port. It examines the vehicle’s system and returns a fault code indicating the nature of the problem.

Reset the SRS light with an OBD reader.

For it to work, you must purchase an OBD2 scanner that is capable of understanding and resetting SRS light codes. OBD2 scanners are available in both wireless and wired configurations. Choose one based on your requirements, but see if it can read SRS problems.

There are several OBD2 scanners available on the market. They deal with both old and current models and can resolve not just SRS difficulties but other complex problems as well.

They show error codes to assist you in determining the source of the problem. You may look up the code to figure out what’s wrong and how to fix it.

Even when the scanner is unable to provide a solution, it could assist you in locating the true problem, which will save both time and energy.

With an OBD2 scanner, you can save time by locating the problem on your own. And if you can fix the problem as well, that would be a cherry on top. So look for the best OBD2 scanners available, and choose one for your car.

Car Safety and Airbags: Need-to-Know Facts

  1. SRS stands for supplemental restraint system, which refers to a car’s airbags.
  2. If the SRS light illuminates while driving, there may be an issue with the airbag system, and it should be checked as soon as possible.
  3. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class was the first production car to use a driver-side airbag in 1981.
  4. Since September 1998, all cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. have been required to have front driver-side and passenger-side airbags.
  5. Airbags are considered passive safety devices because they don’t require driver activation.
  6. Modern vehicles have many different airbag types that require calibrated sensors for deployment.
  7. The complexity of airbag deployment systems means that occasional checkups may be necessary.
  8. Faulty sensors can prevent airbags from working properly, even if they are installed in the car.
  9. If the SRS light illuminates, it’s important not to ignore it and to have the system checked.
  10. Failing to have the SRS system checked could put the safety of the driver and passengers at risk.

Final Thoughts

A damaged SRS light poses little imminent danger besides in case of an accident. It will not cause your car to break down in the middle of the road.

Nonetheless, any problem with the light should not be overlooked. This system includes safety mechanisms to avoid significant injury or death in the case of any collision.

Considering this, you should take a moment to locate a professional workshop where they can fix SRS light problems. Allow them time to conduct a thorough diagnosis to locate the issue. Once they give an estimate, make smart choices so you won’t end up paying extra.

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