SRS Module--Breaking Camel's Back?

wagon
honda

#1

My '97 Honda Accord Wagon (last year they sold them in the USA) has had the SRS light on for a few years. When it first occurred, my shop diagnosed a faulty SRS module, and they and I both looked around for a used one (the new one was $600!). But we couldn’t find one: the wagon uses a different module from the sedan (why, I don’t know), and so they’re rare; many yards don’t want the liability of selling a used one, too.



So we’ve used the car, mostly around town and to take the dogs to the park, and let the light shine. But now, the Massachusetts RMV, just to cause trouble, has mandated that the light must work (i.e. go out when you start the engine), which of course mine doesn’t. I can’t just take the bulb out, because the light has to go on when you turn the key to the On position.



The current price is $716. Plus labor, of course. If I don’t fix it, the car won’t pass inspection.



The Honda has 120K; the body is decent, especially for this climate; not too much rust. It runs fine.



It also needs a new exhaust system, from the converter back ($400+), and a right CV joint/axle (c. $200). And it will need a pair of tires (c. $150). So to fix everything will take about $1,600. KBB book value (private party sale) is maybe $3,000 in good condition. Don’t fix, and it’s sell for parts, or donate.



I think if we weren’t looking at $800 or so for the SRS module, I’d fix it. But this may be more than this camel can (or wants to) bear. We have two other cars (a '98 Chevy window van, and an '07 Subaru Outback.



Suggestions? Opinions? Anywhere to get a cheaper SRS module? Apparently they are sometimes fixable, but the shop doesn’t want to attempt it, again for liability reasons.



Perfectly good car, really; who needs airbags?



/Mr Lynn




#2

One idea, remove the SRS module and reinstall it a couple of minutes later. Perhaps it is like a computer and will “reboot” without giving you the light.

If you haven’t tryed E-Bay, give that a try to locate the part. If you can’t find a used one, perhaps you’ll get a better price on a new one.

Consider selling the car to someone outside of MA. Disclose the problem but those Honda Accord Wagons are rare and attractive used cars. The SRS light may not be an issue in Montana for instance.

Even if the repair costs exceed the book value, it may be worth it if it keeps you happy and you don’t have to buy another newer car.


#3

Try this website: http://www.bba-reman.com/

These guys remanufacture all kinds of controllers, and may be able to fix your airbag controller. I used them to rebuild an ABS module a couple of months ago. I pulled the controller myself, and mailed it to them after calling them and reading the serial numbers off the control unit to make sure they could fix it. With overnight delivery, they had the unit back to me in 5 days!


#4

Has anyone actually troubleshot the SRS system? An independent shop may be able to troubleshoot the SRS system. It may be something as simple as resetting.


#5

Thanks everyone for the replies!

(1) UncleTurbo: Good ideas. eBay is a possibility, though have to pull out unit to match part number, and the vendors can be sketchy, especially for devices that must work properly. But if no. 3 below doesn’t work out, may go to eBay.

Selling outside of MA may be an option, too, if I decide to go that route.

And keeping the car is also an option. Though in the back of my mind is the possibility of an excuse to buy a convertible, which I have long hankered for. . .

(2) Hellokit: My local shop says they got a specific code indicating an internal fault with the module.

(3) BustedKnuckles?the winner! Turned Joe at the shop on to BBA-Reman, which he knew of but hadn’t dealt with (says they used to specialize in foreign exotics), but he called and they said they might be able to fix the module for c. $200 plus shipping (and they’re in Taunton, not far from us). They guarantee their work, so I think that’s the best bet, and Joe is happy 'cuz he’s got an instrument cluster from another car he can send them, too.

I’ll post an update as things develop.

/Mr Lynn


#6

You need to be careful with these SRS modules. Usually, there is an external fault that blows a fuse (supposedly non-replaceable) in the module and disables the system. Be wary of blaming the module itself and risk destroying another grossly over-priced part. See if you can LOCATE your module and remove it from your car. Does THAT action extinguish the light?

Dashboard lights can be spoofed with a simple time-delay relay circuit, but that requires skills few people have today…And besides, all those lawyers sitting on the fence waiting…It’s amazing that over half of our citizens manage to survive without these motor vehicle inspection laws…


#7

have you had any other problems with controls on the steering wheel like the horn or cruise etc. The clock spring mechanism on Hondas was often failed (as did the Acura, and the part OEM is expensive as is the installation). However my two sons found that they had inadvertently loosened or disconnected the plug to the SRS module near the accelerator pedal (snagged by his big toe on shoes!) When check and replugged everything was Aok…this one is worth checking out.


#8

UPDATE: Well, BBA-Reman held on to the SRS module for a week, and have finally decided they can’t repair it. Not clear why; they were looking for an internal part, so maybe they couldn’t find it. This is a disappointment, as their price was c. $200, whereas a new module is close to $800!

In the meantime, I had the shop replace a good portion of the exhaust system, the right front axle, and pull out the SRS module, adding up to about $700.

I’m searching on the Internet (e.g. at www.car-part.com/ , recommended by someone at HondaHookup.com), but am not optimistic. . . .

/Mr Lynn


#9

At least they were honest with you, and didn’t try to scam you with a bad repair. I’ve only used them once, but they dealt straight with me from the very beginning, which carries a lot of weight.

Have you tried any salvage yards? Try this link to maybe locate a replacement. Make sure you get the warranty in case it is not compatible or damaged. http://www.car-part.com/

UPDATE: I ran a quick search, and found 5 units on the east coast. Not sure I picked the correct options, tho. The most expensive was $175, and cheapest was $75.


#10

Good news! One of the yards found through http://www.car-part.com/ , in New Jersey, had a module from the same car (“not hit; engine died”) and sold it to me for $150 ( http://www.DelseaMotors.com ). No guarantee, so I took a chance. But my shop installed it, went through the reset procedure, and it worked (‘working’ is defined as turning on the dash light when you start the car, presumably doing some kind of self-test, then turning off the dash light after 6 seconds; I wonder whether the airbags will actually deploy if needed?but I’d rather not find out). That enabled me to pass the state inspection, so all is well. Thanks BK!

I got my old module back from BB-reman and am debating sending it to an outfit in Texas that says they can fix it for $50, Airbag Systems ( http://www.airbagsystems.com/ ). That would give me a backup, or a salable unit, but as far as I know there is no way to test it without taking out the one that works and trying it in the car?more trouble than it’s worth, I suspect.

/Mr Lynn


#11

I think having a back up is overkill. I have to yet experience a failure of one of those modules. Not to say that it couldn’t happen, esp since I am typing this! But now for the 2nd one to go bad, it would be real bad luck.


#12

Bad news! After a couple of weeks, the SRS light failed to go out after starting!

Oh crap, I thought; the replacement module failed.

But good news! The shop pulled the code and it was a different one from the original. So they reset the module, and that worked. They also did a little research, and discovered that of 11 failures of that model’s SRS system, 6 were triggered by poor electrical connection from the battery. So they cleaned the battery terminals, on the chance that might be a problem. They did not check the ground(s), so I guess that is something I should do.

We’ll see how long it lasts this time. . .

/Mr Lynn


#13

Yes, you should check the grounds; they are just as important as the positive connections.


#14

Sounds like you have a good shop there, glad everything is working out!


#15

Oops! Light back on today. Interestingly, it’s a cold, rainy day, just like the last day (Monday) the light stopped going out.

That certainly does suggest a weak connection somewhere. Joe at the shop (Murphy’s Automotive, in the Saxonville section of Framingham, MA?and it is a good shop) says that if everything else is working all right, it’s probably not the main grounds, and they did check the SRS circuit earlier, but they could do it again. “It could be in the module,” he said.

The car needs an oil change, so if the weather’s good in the next few days, I’ll try to find time to get underneath and check some grounds, too.

/Mr Lynn


#16

Have you checked the seatbelt retractor? Our 2002 Civic had the SRS light on because the driver’s seat belt retractor was bad. Honda fixed it free of charge because it’s warranted for the life of the vehicle. Just a thought.


#17

What was wrong with the retractor? As far as I know, the retractor doesn’t have any electrical connection; the latch does, so that when the belt end is inserted, the seatbelt light goes off. Conceivably if the system doesn’t know the seatbelt is attached, the SRS light might be programmed to stay on, but my recollection is that they are independent (at least in my '97).

/Mr Lynn


#18

I changed the oil Sunday and removed and cleaned the two battery grounds I saw (one to the block?hard to get at, danged FWD cars!), and the other to the body); they were a little rusty, but the metal-to-metal contacts were clean.

The light’s still on. I may try to do the reset procedure myself, though fiddling with explosive airbag circuitry makes me nervous. Not this week, though (going out of town for a few days). If the problem is somewhere in the circuit (or the module) where wet weather causes the current flow to drop, what are the odds of finding it? I’m reluctant to try another module, too. . .

/Mr Lynn


#19

Thought I might ressurrect this thread, as it’s inspection time again, and I’ve still got the SRS light on! Last year I reset the SRS module (a simple jumper does it), took it to the shop, and managed to get through inspection before the light came back on with the engine running, about an hour later. So I guess I’ll try that again, and keep my fingers crossed.

No real point in posting, but I went back to refresh my memory, and thought, “Well, maybe someone might have a new idea.” I sure don’t.

/Mr Lynn


#20

That $50 back-up part sounds better and better. I would install it on “Inspection Day” only…