How to Test an Airbag Sensor

An airbag coming out of a steering wheel.
What You'll Need
Service Manual
Scan Tool

An airbag is worthless if the airbag sensor isn't working properly. Many car models include sensors that automatically reset after an impact. However, not all vehicles are designed this way, and the sensor may have to be replaced or reset manually after an impact. If your airbags have deployed, it's a good idea to test the sensor. Testing the sensor is an easy task.

Step 1 - Determine Problem

Whenever the engine is started, the control modules for the airbag will automatically self-check the crash sensors. What this means is that you will only need to test the airbag sensor if the airbag warning light is lit up.

Step 2 - Scan Tool

You will need to get a scan tool and use it on your airbag system. Make sure that you have your service manual out so that you can understand what the trouble code means. It is a good idea to write down this trouble code for future reference. Note that the airbag sensor is also referred to as a front impact sensor.

Step 3 - Troubleshoot

Once you have the trouble code down, you will need to read up on your owner’s manual so that you will be able to understand all of the scenarios for the possible problem.

Step 4 - Replace if Necessary

If the sensor has gone bad, the airbag won’t receive the memo to inflate in the case of an accident. To replace the sensor, locate it near the front of the engine compartment. Unplug the wiring, unscrew the old sensor, and install the new one.