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You & Your Car

Can I reset a Honda's airbag warning light myself? Add to ...

My son-in-law has an older-model Honda Civic and, when they came for a visit recently, I noticed a warning light was on for the airbags system. He said it had come on some months ago and been on steadily since.

I checked fuses and didn't see anything wrong there and, later on the web, found a video showing how to reset the light on the Civic. I am hesitant to try anything like this for fear I'll set off the bag. What do you recommend?

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Let the dealer or a certified technician investigate and solve the problem. There is a reason the light is on - there is a malfunction or deteriorated connection somewhere meaning the bag might not provide the necessary life-saving protection in a crash.

The proper code-reading equipment will likely identify the problem and a Honda-certified tool used to reset the light.

You are right in not playing around with this system. Not only is there the possibility of causing an inadvertent deployment with the resulting damage to the vehicle dash and possibly yourself, you might also extinguish the light but not correct the base problem so you would have no protection in a crash.

It is interesting to see you use the term "warning light" because that is exactly what the light you refer to is there for. It and a wide array of small lights in the instrument panel come on only when there is a problem, something that requires your attention.

However, in some newer vehicles, manufacturers are using such lights to tell you when the passenger-side airbag is active. If there is nobody in the passenger seat, the new-generation "smart" airbags are deactivated. When the seat is occupied, sensors detect that presence and activate the bag, In some new vehicles, thankfully not many, this lights up a small light on the dash to advise you that the passenger bag is active and the occupant protected. The problem is that we are accustomed to assuming things are working unless a "warning" light comes on. We assume the bag is active.

All the light does is teach us to ignore "warning" lights.


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