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Air Bag Occupant Sensor Replacement Cost

Know what price you should pay to get your vehicle fixed.

The average cost for an air bag occupant sensor replacement is between $214 and $231. Labor costs are estimated between $57 and $74 while parts are priced at $157. Estimate does not include taxes and fees.
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What is an Air Bag Occupant Sensor?

Most modern vehicles equipped with airbags will monitor the position of passengers, most commonly in the front passenger seat. This is done to prevent unnecessary airbag deployment in the event of a collision, and therefore save repair cost to the vehicle. These sensors are pressure sensitive, and are placed inside the seat or seat frame so when an occupant sits on the seat the sensor activates the airbags for that seating position.

How do Air Bag Occupant Sensors work?

Air bag occupant sensors, as mentioned, are installed in the seat to measure when a passenger is in that seating position. This allows the airbag control module to activate the airbags in that position when needed or deactivate the airbags in that position when they are not. This is an autonomous system that takes the place of older systems where the key is needed to turn the airbags on and off for the passenger seating position. When a person or items of sufficient weight are placed on the seat, an indicator typically advises the driver and passenger that the passenger airbags are on, and will inflate in the event of an emergency.

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What are the symptoms of a bad Air Bag Occupant Sensor?

Failing occupant sensors can show one of two symptoms. They may stay on at all times, causing the passenger airbags to stay active even when a passenger is not present. Also, they may not operate at all, which prevents the airbags from activating when a passenger is seated in that seating position. Also, for most systems, the airbag or SRS warning light will illuminate on the instrument cluster, prompting the driver to service the system.

Can I drive with a bad Air Bag Occupant Sensor?

Any time the supplemental restraint system (SRS) or airbag system is not functioning perfectly the risk to occupants increases in the event of a collision. These systems have been proven to protect occupants lives in the event of a collision, and should not be allowed to fall into disrepair. Also, most state or federal inspection programs will not pass a vehicle with the airbag or SRS warning lights illuminated during normal operation.

How often do Air Bag Occupant Sensors need replacement?

Occupant sensors, like all other electronic components, have no particular length of service life. However, occupant sensors fail more seldom than most other parts due to the lack of use. Most vehicles carry the driver primarily, and the passenger seating positions are typically empty. This means the sensor gets far less use in the passenger seating positions. Avoiding storing items under the front seats, keeping the floorboards clean of debris, and preventing water intrusion into the vehicle is the best way to ensure these sensors remain trouble free.

How are Air Bag Occupant Sensor issues diagnosed?

When the airbag warning light or SRS warning light is displayed, the technician will connect a professional grade scan tool to the vehicle, and often an enhanced OBD-II code will alert the technician that the occupant sensor has failed, or there has been an issue detected in that circuit. There may also be the indicator of an empty seat with the airbags active, or lack of activation when seated in that position. The technician will then test the reference and signal voltage loaded and unloaded to determine if the sensor is reporting information to the control module properly. The failed sensor will be replaced.

How are Air Bag Occupant Sensors replaced?

Most commonly, the occupant sensor will be housed in an accessible position on the underside of the seat cushion. The technician will disconnect the battery, remove the sensor, disconnect the electrical connector and install and connect the new sensor. Then, the battery will be reconnected, codes will be cleared, and the occupant sensor will be tested for proper operation. If the replacement has corrected the issue, no further action is required.

RepairPal Recommendations for Air Bag Occupant Sensor issues

If the airbag or SRS warning light are illuminated, we recommend avoiding driving the vehicle until it is repaired. In the event of a collision the airbags will likely not deploy for any seating position when the warning lights are active. This is particularly dangerous for children whether in the front or rear seats.

What to look out for when dealing with Air Bag Occupant Sensor issues

Airbags are dangerous when serviced incorrectly. Improper maintenance can lead to the sudden inflation of airbags, which can lead to serious injury. At any point that an airbag system is serviced, the battery should be disconnected and the electrical system should be discharged before beginning work.

Can I replace the Air Bag Occupant Sensor myself?

Replacing an occupant sensor is simple, fast, and can be done by anyone who understands and follows safety protocol for servicing airbag related components. Diagnosing the sensor may prove difficult if the system is not understood. If there is any doubt pertaining to safety or diagnostics, the job should be left to a professional technician.

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