Occupant Restraint Controller (ORC)

March 28, 2017

The ‘occupant restraint controller’, commonly called the SRS control module, is a small computer that is mounted inside the vehicle. It functions to monitor and control the supplemental restraint system (SRS), which includes the seat belts, airbags, collision sensors, and other functions on more advanced vehicles. This controller will also store collision data in the case of an accident.

Symptoms of Wear or Failure of the Occupant Restraint Controller

  • SRS warning light illumination: when the occupant restraint controller (ORC) is failing, or has failed, the SRS warning light will be displayed on the dashboard. This is a signal that the ORC has detected a fault, but the fault may actually be the ORC.

  • The seat belt warning light stays on when seat belt is fastened: the occupant restraint controller receives input from the seat belt buckles, and alerts the driver if a seatbelt is not fastened where a passenger is seated. If this warning is happening while the seat belts are fastened, the ORC may not be receiving the signal, or cannot process the signal properly.

  • Passenger airbag stays off: many vehicles will deactivate the passenger airbags in the front seat when there is no occupant in that seat. This prevents the needless deployment of costly airbags, and the repair that follows. If the occupant pressure sensor in the passenger seat is not functioning properly, or the occupant restraint system cannot process the information, the system should be diagnosed to mitigate injury in the case of an accident.

Related Repair Advice

  • The occupant restraint controller looks like most other computers in the vehicle, and proper identification of location and appearance is necessary to find and test the ORC.

  • Proper training is required to safely service the SRS system, and this module definitely falls into the SRS system. In fact, there may be a bright yellow connector, and a printed warning of danger connected to the ORC, and this should not be taken lightly.

  • Airbags can cause serious injury, or even death, if the SRS system is tampered with. It is best to leave any repairs pertaining to the SRS system, including the occupant restraint controller, to the professionals.

  • Most consumer grade scanners will not allow alterations, or testing of the SRS system, and without that capability, diagnosing the system will become very difficult to impossible.



About the Author

RepairPal is the leading online source of auto repair resources and estimates. With many ASE Master certified mechanics on staff who have decades of experience, RepairPal knows all the fine points of car repair.

No comments yet...

Sign in to comment