SRS and Airbag Lights: Your Car’s Watchful Guardians

The supplemental restraint system or SRS light may be represented by an image of a seated individual with an inflated airbag in front of them. 

The icon typically resembles a person wearing a seatbelt with a round shape representing the airbag in front.

Some vehicles may display the words “SRS” or “Airbag” on the dashboard. 

Understanding The SRS/Airbag light:

The real question is, what is an SRS & why was it named ‘supplemental refraining system’ and not along the lines of ‘Airbag refraining system’?

The term “Supplemental Restraint System” reflects the fact that airbags are intended to supplement the primary restraint system, which is seat belts. 

Seat belts are considered the primary restraint system, as they are designed to restrain occupants during a collision and distribute the forces across the body.

Airbags, on the other hand, provide an additional layer of protection by reducing the risk of head and chest injuries – Hence giving birth to the name “Sequential Restraining System”.

How does a Supplemental Restraint System or SRS work?

The SRS includes various components working together to provide additional protection beyond seat belts. 

These components typically include;

  • Airbags (front & side airbags both)
  • Impact sensors
  • Control modules
  • Typical associated wiring.

When a collision is detected, the control unit sends a signal to the airbag inflator, which then inflates the airbag. 

The SRS also uses seatbelt pre-tensioners, which are designed to lock the seatbelt in place during a collision to prevent the occupant from moving forward.

The SRS is designed to work in conjunction with other safety systems, such as the anti-lock brake system (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC). 

The ABS system prevents the wheels from locking up during hard braking, while the ESC system helps to maintain vehicle stability during sudden swerves or turns.

Overall, the SRS is an important safety system that can help to reduce the risk of injury in the event of a collision. It is important to ensure that the SRS is properly maintained and serviced to ensure that it is working correctly.

Though, It is not necessary for a collision to take place for the SRS light to pop up, when the system detects certain collision parameters, such as rapid deceleration or impact, it triggers the deployment of the airbags to cushion and protects the occupants.

Is it OK to drive while having SRS light on?

Before I begin to answer this query, please know that it is strictly illegal to drive a vehicle with a malfunctioned SRS in most European countries & a few states in the USA. 

From a performance’s perspective, there is almost no effect of ‘SRS’ light being illuminated while driving, The SRS light is primarily a warning indicator for potential issues with the airbag system.

In short, even if your local law allows you to drive with an SRS light on, it will have NO impact on your vehicle’s performance, though this directly translates to compromising your own safety just to save a few bucks.

So, Can we drive a car with an SRS light? Yes, but is it worth it? A big NO!

Diagnosing an SRS Light: 101

If you own a vehicle with a Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) light on, you know how frustrating it can be.

If your SRS light is on, there are a few things you can do to diagnose the issue:

  1. Check the SRS fuse: The SRS system is powered by a fuse that can blow if there is a power surge or short circuit. Check the owner’s manual to locate the SRS fuse and check if it has blown.
  2. Check the SRS connections: The SRS system is made up of various sensors and connectors. If any of these connections are loose, damaged, or corroded, it can cause the SRS light to come on.
  3. Scan the SRS system: To get a more detailed diagnosis of the problem, you can use an OBD-II scanner to read the SRS system’s codes. This will help you identify the specific issue that is causing the SRS light to come on.
  4. Take it to a professional: If you are unable to diagnose the problem yourself, it is best to take your vehicle to a professional mechanic who can use specialized equipment to diagnose and repair the issue.

FAQs regarding SRS

As a car owner, you may have questions regarding the SRS (Supplemental Restraint System) of your vehicle. 

Here are some frequently asked questions and their answers for your reference:

How do airbags work?

When a collision occurs, sensors in the vehicle detect the impact and send a signal to the control unit. The control unit then activates the airbags, which inflate rapidly to cushion the occupants and prevent them from hitting the interior of the vehicle.

Are all airbags the same?

No, different types of airbags are designed for different purposes. Some airbags are designed to protect the head and chest, while others are meant to protect the knees and legs.

Do airbags need to be replaced after deployment?

Yes, once an airbag has been deployed, it needs to be replaced. This is because the airbag material is designed to be used only once, and it may not provide adequate protection if it is deployed again.

Can airbags cause injuries?

While airbags are designed to protect occupants in a collision, they can also cause injuries if they deploy with too much force or at the wrong angle. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper seating and airbag usage.

How often should I have my SRS inspected?

It is recommended to have your SRS inspected by a trained technician every 5 years or after a collision. This ensures that the system is working properly and the airbags are in good condition.

These are some of the common questions that car owners have regarding the SRS of their vehicles. 

It is important to understand how this safety system works and how to use it properly to ensure the safety of yourself and your passengers.

Best Tool to Read DTC Codes for SRS

If you want to diagnose the SRS (Supplemental Restraint System) in your vehicle, you need a reliable and accurate tool to read DTC (Diagnostic Trouble Codes). 

Here are some of the best tools you can use to read DTC codes for SRS:

1. Foxwell NT630 Elite

This is a mid-range tool that can read and clear SRS codes, as well as other codes related to the engine, transmission, ABS, and more. 

It has a color screen and can provide live data and freeze-frame information. It is compatible with most vehicles made after 1996.

2. BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool

This is a budget-friendly tool that connects to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth.  It can read and clear SRS codes, as well as other codes related to the engine, transmission, ABS, and more. 

How does it work? Is it the same with wired scanners? What features does BlueDriver have? Let’s find out more about the blue driver review scanner below.

It can also provide live data and freeze-frame information. It is compatible with most vehicles made after 1996.


If your SRS (Supplemental Restraint System) light or airbag light stays on, it indicates a problem with your car’s airbag system. 

The first step is to have your car diagnosed. 

Though it will have no impact on your vehicle’s drivability ignoring this warning light may put you and your passengers at risk in the event of an accident.

Consider for your favorite OBD-II Tool

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