Car Repair and Maintenance

SRS Light Meaning: Causes and How to Fix

SRS light meaning

SRS light meaning? Imagine taking a drive in your vehicle and suddenly noticing an unusual light flashing at you on your instrument cluster, then you take a closer look at it and realize it’s your SRS warning light that’s on. Your heart suddenly ‘stops’ thinking you could have a big problem with your vehicle.

Don’t go ‘jumping off’ into the deep end yet, knowing what an SRS light means; its primary functions, what could trigger its coming on, and how you can fix things can be really helpful.

SRS Light Meaning

SRS light meaning

SRS simply translates to Supplemental Restraint System. It is a part of the airbag safety system in vehicles and its light is used to indicate a malfunction in the vehicle’s airbag system.

The type of indicator varies, to indicate a problem some vehicles might display a figure with an airbag while others simply display the letters ‘SRS’.

How did the SRS come to be?

There was a time automakers regarded airbag systems as an ‘add-on’ to luxury vehicles only.

They thought the standard seat belts available in most vehicles were enough until it became clear that using an airbag system along with the already available seat belts in vehicles greatly reduced the chances of injury and fatalities in the event of collisions.

Therefore the airbag system was used to supplement the seat belts to improve vehicle safety—NHTSA. That’s how the Supplemental restraint system (SRS) was born.

Is the SRS light the same as airbag light?

The SRS light is a part of the airbag safety system in modern vehicles.

Note that more advanced airbag systems are designed with more parts, but the basic make-up of every airbag system is the same.

Here are a few parts that make up the airbag system in vehicles:

  • Clockspring: This is a cable that enables you to turn the steering wheel in any direction without breaking electrical contact with the airbag module.
  • Airbag Module: This is the component that contains the airbag ‘itself’ and the inflator.
  • Airbag Sensors: These are sensors that send data to the SRS module whenever a collision occurs.
  • SRS module: This is an on-board computer that controls the entire airbag system, when this computer notices an issue within the system; it sends a signal to indicate this to the user using the SRS light indicator.

So yes, the SRS light is basically the same as the airbag light.

Anything with so many parts is bound to develop faults at some time and the SRS is no exemption to this rule.

What would cause the SRS light to come on?

Anything from something as simple as a dead car battery to corrosion could cause the SRS light to come on.

The most common causes of the SRS light coming on are:

1. Water Corrosion

As with any sort of electrical system, the presence of water in the airbag system can cause severe damage, seriously compromising the efficiency of the system and also triggering the coming on of the SRS light.

2. Dead car battery or SRS backup battery

Needless to say, every electrical system needs a battery in good condition to function optimally, a combination of either or both of the car battery or the SRS backup battery dead or barely retaining any power can cause the SRS light to come on.

Getting a new battery is the only way to remedy this situation.

3. Malfunctioning SRS Computer

A faulty SRS computer module due to factors such as age, excessive heat, harsh vibrations, and water damage can make the SRS light come on.

A complete replacement of the SRS computer is the only solution to this problem.

4. Faulty Seat Belt Latch

Certain sensors in the SRS monitor when seat belts are fastened properly. Mundane things such as dust, cookie crumbs, or even liquid spills could find their way into seat belt buckles and interfere with the connections of these sensors.

Cleaning out the seat belt buckle or latches occasionally can solve this problem or prevent it.

5. Damaged Clockspring

This is a cable that enables you to turn the steering wheel in any direction without breaking electrical contact with the airbag module.

Though it’s tough and built to withstand the abuse, but as with all components will eventually break due to constant abuse or use.

When this stops working, it will throw up the SRS light to alert you. You must resolve this situation quickly else you run the risk of your airbags not deploying during a collision.

6. Blown Fuse

Detection of this fault is down to the use of an OBD2 scanner tool as it’s not easily noticeable.

Replacing this fuse connector is the only way to solve this problem when it occurs.

7. Previous Collisions

During an accident certain crash sensors trigger the deployment of airbags to protect the vehicle occupants; but in the event of the airbags failing to deploy due to a malfunction, a fault signal is sent to the computer causing the SRS light to come on indicating a computer reset is needed so things can go back to normal.

The SRS of your vehicle contains many parts. Any of this could trigger the SRS light to come on.

Having this in mind, the best way to diagnose problems with the SRS is to use an OBD2 scanner tool.

Can I still drive with my SRS light on?

The SRS doesn’t interfere with the basic operation of your vehicle so it would definitely run as intended even if the SRS light is on. However, you must know that in the event of any accidents, your safety is severely compromised as the safety system of your vehicle would not work as intended resulting in a failure of airbags deployment which can result in serious injuries or fatalities.

If you don’t have access to an OBD2 scanner tool or have the needed expertise, it’s recommended you employ the services of a professional to diagnose the problem immediately.

How do I fix my SRS light?

Some folks might see the SRS light as an annoying little distraction and just find a way to turn it off since it doesn’t affect the basic operation of their vehicle.

However, this can prove to be a costly mistake. I recommend you save yourself a lot of stress by using an OBD2 scanner tool that can read and erase SRS error codes or if you don’t have one, you employ the services of a professional to diagnose and fix the problem before you reset the SRS light.

How much does it cost to fix SRS light?

Costs can range from just a free cleaning of the seatbelt latch with a vacuum cleaner to a malfunctioning SRS computer which can cost you thousands.

Labor costs are relatively inexpensive, ranging from $45 to $200. Parts like airbag sensors can range from $120 to $2,000 depending on the type of vehicle, scanning, and diagnosis by professionals can also cost from $30 to $80.

The surest way to know how much fixing an SRS light will cost you is to have your vehicle scanned by a professional. Estimated costs are dependent on the codes gotten during scanning with a scanner tool.

Any other thing I need to know?

In most vehicles, once the SRS light is on the airbag will not be deployed as it is intentionally designed as a safety feature to prevent unwarranted airbag deployment to protect vehicle occupants since the system is not functioning as intended.

A proper diagnosis, repair, and reset of the SRS computer will solve the problem, only then will the SRS light go off and the system begins working the way it was designed.

Bernard Juchli
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Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli is an experienced racer, mechanic and team owner who trusts Avon Tyres. Bernard is the lead driver and force behind his Big Dog Garage Race Team. He is the General Manager and Chief Mechanic of Jay Leno’s Garage. Bernard and his crew of seven are responsible for all repairs, restoration and fabrication of Jay’s incredible automobile and motorcycle collection.

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