Airbag light

Discussion in 'General Chevy & GM Tech Questions' started by jonejam2, Feb 18, 2011.

  1. jonejam2

    jonejam2 New Member

    Its been about 6 months, but I had the idler arm and some other work done on the front end of my 1996 suburban. Ever since the "Airbag" indicator is lit on the dash panel. No codes in my OBD reader for that.

    Any thoughts on how to check this out? Everyone says "Take it to the dealer" with airbag issues because its about life right, but nobody says "Take it to the dealer" when your brakes are bad and that is just as important right.

    I only have the drivers side airbag in the steering wheel. I know there is a sensor on each side of the truck on the front frame near the wheel well - is it possible to disconnect the battery over night then replace those sensors?

  2. stephan

    stephan Rockstar 4 Years 5000 Posts

    Hey JJ, since this happend right after the shop was working on it, I would check & see if they might have bumped the sensor or done a caveman job on your idler arm. To me, steering is more important than brakes or air bags.. I can live with out brakes & air bags, but without steering you're pretty much screwed. If you find something that you don't think you can repair effectively, then like the others said, I would recommend taking it to the dealer just for safety reasons. The reason most people do their own brakes is because they are easier to work on than airbags.
  3. kennyb79

    kennyb79 Rockstar 100 Posts

    its to bad you waited so long after the work was done I would have made them check out the problem. I would have to bet that the sensor or wire got messed with somehow. just be advised there are a couple A/c sensors in the front of the suburban somewhere to so they may have wiggled that wire to.

    My airbag lights been on for two years I can't seem to trace it out and aside from having the stupid light on all the time I really don't care if its on. realy, I drive a suburban, and airbags are a luxury...if they don't work who cares. ABS lights, check engine lights, those are different IMO and I'd be fixing those, but I'm not going to pay a fortune for the dealer to "try" and fix the airbag light, with no guarrantees.

    My dad could fix any of those stupid lights...he'd just put a piece of tape over it and be done with it.
  4. jonejam2

    jonejam2 New Member

    Thanks Stephan and Kennyb. My steering seems a little goofy so I'm gonna have it looked at. I would really much rather totally disable that airbag. My wife is 4ft 11 and she sits so close to the steering wheel that if it ever goes off, it'll probably kill her. Anyone know a good procedure to totally and verifiably disable the airbag? I wish I could count on that airbag light telling me it is disabled, but I cant.

  5. stephan

    stephan Rockstar 4 Years 5000 Posts

    Hey JJ, on your steering, I would have your wife turn the steering wheel back & forth while you slide under it & have a look at everything the tie rod ends & the idler arm, etc. If you feel excessive play in the steering wheel, you should be able to see it just by looking closely.
    On the air bag... if your wife is 4' 11" I'm not so sure I would defeat it cuz if she ever did get in a wreck, her face would be smacking the steering wheel if she sits that low in the cab. The air bag is a lot better to be hit with than the wheel.
    The only way to be sure you've defeated the air bag is to either set it off, or take the CO2 cannister out. When we defeated a few for safety reasons, we'd take the wheel out & sit something on top of it to launch it lol
  6. Dantheman96

    Dantheman96 Member

    Unhook your steering shaft from the steering gearbox and pull the shaft off at the slip joint. Get in your truck and spin the steering wheel several times. This will tear the tandem wire running to your bag inside the wheel. All this after unhooking the battery of course. I found this out by accident when replacing the steering shaft in my truck. It didn't matter because the airbags in these trucks will mess you up if you're sitting too close to the wheel. I had a head on with a tree back in 96 in a Suburban and the bag burned my face and caught my jacket on fire. I am sure they have improved over the years, but the first generation airbags will mess you up.
  7. jonejam2

    jonejam2 New Member

    Thanks Stephan. My suburban has the electric seat and it takes her up reallyhigh (her thighs almost touch the steering wheel) and she sits SOOO close to the wheel that I think she is toast either way in a bad accident. I cant talk her into anything else either. I wish I could change the break and gas pedals around to help get her away from the steering wheel.

    I will get under the sub and watch while she turns the wheel - thanks for that. It makes perfect sense.
    I bet removing those co2 canisters is fun too!


    ---------- Post added at 12:08 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:07 AM ----------

    Thanks Dan. I might just do that. Unfortunately I don't know which is more dangerous for my wife. No airbag and have the steering wheel hurt her badly or airbag and have it hurt her badly.

    No win on this but she LOVES driving her suburban.
  8. stephan

    stephan Rockstar 4 Years 5000 Posts

    Hey JJ, Are you worried about the bag just going off randomly due to an electrical error & hurting her, or are you talking about it hurting her in an accident?
    They have pedal mods so you can get her to sit a little farther back from the wheel.
    If you decide you want to disable it, I'll tell you an easy way, but you should give this some serious consideration first. Personally I'd rather have a face full of air bag, than a steering wheel.
  9. kennyb79

    kennyb79 Rockstar 100 Posts

    heres the way I look at it. your driving a suburban, if you hit anything chances are pretty good that its gonna be smaller than you and you'll fare better than the other guy. I've seen plenty of airbags touch off and its never a pretty sight, it makes a mess and I couldn't imagine sitting against the steering wheel if it goes off. I've seen guys with broken thumbs and injuries to their hands and forearms that would have walked away unscathed if the airbag hadn't gone off. I've also seen drivers that would have been hurt a lot worse if the hadn't had an airbag. they are usually in smaller cars, not trucks or suburbans. wear your seatbealt thats your best bet in a crash. I've hit 2 deer since my airbag light has been on, the first deer moved the bumper back a couple inches, and the airbag didn't go. the second just busted the grille out. so maybe the airbag won't trigger as long as the light is off, at least thats what I've been told.
  10. jonejam2

    jonejam2 New Member

    Thanks Stephan and Kenny.

    Yep I'm kinda worried about both. SHe sits so close to the wheel that if it goes off in an accident she'll likely be killed by the dang thing. With the airbag light showing (steadily on) i'm afraid it'll go off randomly. Any chances of that? Any idea where I can find a pedal modification you mentioned. Size matters on these little crashes so you are right Kenny, my wife is a nurse who works intermittently in an emergency room and she see's airbag injuries often. Just scares me. If I could move her back from the wheel I would feel better.

Share This Page

Newest Gallery Photos