Service air bag soon light

2003 Chevy Avalanche 5.3L My “service airbag soon” light came on right after I hand washed my Avalanche. Do you think I just got the contacts wet or is there a real problem? If I need to service it do I have to go to the dealer or can an independent shop do it? I don’t like to go to dealer for any service I can’t do myself. Thanks for your advice.

The air bag controller will have to be scanned for codes. This is a different system than the ODB-II engine management system. You may need to go to the dealer for this one. Or, an independent body shop may have the required scanner.

If the SRS system light is illuminated then be aware, you may have no airbags at all. Your vehicle may be equipped with all sorts of airbags, including front driver, front passenger, knee bolster airbags for both front passengers, side curtain, and side impact. Some or all of these may be inoperative while that light is on, depending on what the problem is.

Your airbag system uses a plethora of sensors called accelerometers all over the vehicle to measure accelerations that the vehicle undergoes and in what direction. When the vehicle undergoes an acceleration severe enough to close the sensor contacts, this indicates to the computer that there has been a crash. But more than one sensor has to trigger at the same time for the computer to deploy the airbags. You may have sprayed a sensor and shorted its wiring, causing the computer to see “x” sensor saying there’s been an accident. But since no other sensors are agreeing, it is not deploying the airbags, and has illuminated the light.

As long as the computer thinks that sensor has a problem, it will not trust it, which means whatever airbags it is responsible for will not deploy in the event of an accident. Most modern repair shops have scanners that can access airbag information such as Snap-On’s MODIS or the GENESIS scanner. I use both where I work, depending on what mood I’m in, lol. So you can take this to the dealer, or a shop you trust, whichever makes you feel best. But get it fixed, those airbags may save your life one day.


It’s been about 3hrs. since I washed it and I guess it dried out becaused the airbag light is off. It seems to me that if you can turn on the light by getting one sensor wet what would happen if you got two sensors wet?
I had a new insturment cluster installed Jan 7 of this year and I’m wondering if that could be a problem. I would think not because wouldn’t the screen on the cluster need some imformation from the computer to tell it to display the airbag warning?

I’m glad it’s off but will have to keep an eye on it.

just because it went off doesn’t mean it is working… I would run a diagnostic just to make sure.

When you first turn the key to the ON position does the self-diagnostic system illuminate the air bag light (perhaps flashes for 7 times) then go off?

That’s what it does in both of my GMs ('00 Olds Silhouette and '02 Tahoe).

I had an air bag light come on while driving some time ago and it stayed on steady until I stopped and wiggled the front seat side air bag wiring connector under the seat. (Olds)

I had my favorite tech of 16 years check it out and that was the only fault. (Poor connection)

Yes it blinks several times but I think that is just a system check. Since the truck dried out the light has not come back on. It’s been over 36hrs. so I guess there is no problem. I’ll keep an eye out fot it.Thanks.