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Air bag light on after body repair

Okay, so I get rear-ended in Los Angeles. No injuries, trunk dented badly, rear window shattered. Drive home, (a matter of over 200 miles) and car appears to drive as normally as a car can drive with the trunk bungee-corded shut and with no back window. Rides and handles all right. No service lights on anywhere.

6K in repairs, according to my insurer (car not totaled, unfortunately). I get to drive a rental Impala (a car I now despise) for two weeks.

Two weeks later, I’m told my car is ready. Go to pick it up tonight. I’m told the battery is shot (no big surprise-it’s four years old and I’ve sometimes left trunk lids open and things like that). I get in the car, ready to take it home. Well, the air bag light is on. It wasn’t on when I dropped the car off–why would it be on now? Ideas? Is it related to the accident? To the repair? What? I didn’t accept the car–they’re supposed to have the dealer do a diagnostic and figure out what’s wrong. I just want to know what might be happening here.

Just in case you ask: bought as a rental at 19K. Maintenance to the “severe” standard done since then. Transmission replaced under warranty at 50K. Serpentine belt just replaced a thousand or so miles ago. Air compressor known to be leaking oil–I plan on having it replaced sometime in the near future (i.e. before summer).

You were in an accident. During the repairs, they may have finished tripping a questionable sensor. Since the airbags didn’t deploy, as I’m guessing because you didn’t say so, the sensors that would have tripped didn’t because of the crash mode. But, the impact should have had some effect on them. That’s the way they were designed.

Just let the shop deal with it. They have the tools and equipment to fix this for you, and there is really no doubt the accident was most likely to fault, meaning insurance will cover the fix.

Okay, thanks. Right, the air bags didn’t go off. I just asked because I was afraid someone might say it was just something that went of its own accord, and had nothing to do with the accident or repair.

RELATED. It may need a simple reset via the data link and computer or it may need a module. Did you check seat belts? Sometimes the pretensioners blow and the seat belts lock up. This is easliy overlooked, grab the belts and see if they pull and are not as tight as a guitar string. AND make sure they lock when pulled rapidly.

All that has to be done is get the code for the “Air Bag” or SRS or whatever the manufacture cares to call the system read. Very simple to uncover. I suspect you know this but you feel it should not be you that pays to have the code read, I agree, it is a fair question.

Perhaps the body shop was not setup to read air bag codes (pretty odd for a body shop as they must see cars with air bag codes daily). I agree it is real bad form to return a car to a customer with a warning light of any type lit and really bad for for the battery to be dead when an attempt to deliver the car is made. They should have called you and asked what you wanted done with the air bag light but by how you describe other events they probaly said **** and went on to the next car.

Got the car back. They replaced the bad battery at their expense–said it was likely causing the codes. Supposedly, no light, now that the new battery is in. I have not driven it yet to see what is going on. Fingers crossed. . . .

I don’t want others to get the idea that it is common to have an airbag light set because they have/had a dead battery, not in my experience.Now if this is some “quirk” related to Mazda, perhaps, but not with GM,Honda,BMW for sure.

Pretty good you got a free battery, shops image is improving.I now bet it is likely that someone heard quite loudly about this profit stealing mistake.

I know little about the inner workings of cars–I was a little skeptical of the battery thing myself–but if it works. . . At any rate, as I said before, my fingers are crossed and will be for a while.

I don’t know if I got a free battery because a) they were embarrassed at telling me the car was ready when it wasn’t; b) they thought that might be the easiest/quickest fix to the airbag issue; c) somebody did something (like leave the lights on) that finally croaked the battery; or d) some combination of the above. Since the shop got some $6,000 from me and the insurer, I imagine $100 or so for a battery won’t break them.


Perhaps the body shop was not setup to read air bag codes (pretty odd for a body shop as they must see cars with air bag codes daily). …

Most of the vehicles that come into a body shop do not have bag lights illuminated. You are correct in stating it is possible that the shop is not set up to read the codes. Some makes must go to a dealer shop to connect to the manufacturer computer to reset. The shop dropped the ball in vehicle repair and customer service 101. The vehicle should have been flat bedded to the dealer to have this resolved before the customer picked up the car.