SRS Warning Light Question

Hi Everyone,

I own a 1999 Toyota Camry. it has been dealer maintained except for tires and my changing the oil and filter every 2500 miles. It has never been in an accident. It has 97,500 or so miles on it. No recent repairs except having the brakes checked and a tire rotation.

I was driving home from a doctor’s appointment two days ago when the SRS warning light came on. When I arrived home I checked the manual to determine what the light was for. The next day I started the car the light remained on for several seconds. (another thread said this was a self check by the system.) The light did not come on when I was driving. Starting the engine today and driving produced the same result (no light during driving).

The other thread I referred to stated that the car had to be taken to a dealership because a special code reader was necessary to determine the problem. Given that the car is a 1999 does anyone know if the special code reader is still necessary?

Also is there something else that could cause such a problem such as a loose sensor or some other problem that would cause this intermitent behavior?



You do indeed need a specific kind of code reader to determine why your SRS light is coming on. Consumer grade code readers do not have the ability to communicate with the SRS system on your car. Anyone can buy a scan tool that can, but they cost thousands of dollars. You don’t necessarily have to go to the dealership, though. Any decent repair shop will have a scan tool that can communicate with your SRS system and should be able to repair it.

The SRS, supplemental restraint system, is a fancy word they use for your air bags. Many people don’t realize, but air bags do have an expiration date, and that is typically 10 years. Your air bags are almost 13 years old, and are bound to fail the self-test intermittently. Old, expired air bags may fail to deploy correctly or not at all in the case of an accident.The only fix is going to be replacing the air bags. At $2,500 a pop, that will be very costly.

I have never heard of bags having an expiration date…They were designed to last “the life of the car”… As long as the light goes off, the system is operational. If it STAYS ON then the bags are disabled. Repairing them will probably cost more than the car is worth…Talk about planned obsolesce…Light comes on, car goes to junk yard…What a system…

Unless you drive in really really bad traffic…changing your engines oil at 2500 miles is a bit premature. I had been religious about the 3000 mile interval and nowadays I let it slide to 3500-4000 miles. If I use Synthetic I will go between 5-6500K…no further. Any reason you change it so early? You should be able to go considerably further… Sorry I got sidetracked by that oil change interval I saw…LOL…

As for the SRS light I am almost in the same boat as you… I also don’t have the tool to read WHY it came on. My light just came on in my VW at 92K…I don’t know why its on at all and I am in the process of researching it. I have an idea in the back of my mind that it just may be triggered by either TIME…or mileage…just so that the owner makes sure the SRS system Still works periodically…I am probably totally WRONG here…but my neighbors V-dub SRS light went on at just about the same age and mileage as mine did…SO I am now actively investigating this theory… Could I be on to something about the SRS light coming on at a certain age or mileage limit? Could this be an industry standard thing for legal reasons? Not an entirely cuckoo idea…

ANYONE?..ANYONE? Bueller…Bueller…Bueller?

*** Holy S&^…You guys just addressed this question as I was tyoing my long winded response…LOL…

Light comes on…Car fails safety inspection. Cost to repair exceeds value of car…Car is scrapped or exported to Mexico where it will be driven another 100K miles with the dash lit up like a Christmas Tree…

As Caddyman mentioned, if the light goes out the system is working as designed and does not need service. The dealer would be the best place to get it looked at if it ever needs repair, as all of the replacement parts are only available from the dealer. Also, airbag system repairs are usually hundreds, not thousands of dollars. A new driver airbag is about $700, most of the other components are a lot less.

Mercedes, Volvo, and Audi include expiration stickers for the airbags in their cars. The date is anywhere from 10 to 15 years, depending on model year. My wife’s '92 Toyota includes a sticker that suggests the SRS system be tested by the dealer every 10 years and airbags replaced. Curiously, My 2000 Ford and a friend’s Chevy has no such warnings or recommendations.

All of this talk of Airbag expiration dates…sort of re-enforces my theory that mfg’s MIGHT…make the SRS light illuminate after a certain time period or mileage mark? The other reason that I suspect this is bec of Mine and my neighbors VW’s SRS lights lit up at approx the same mileage and time… MAYBE this is a way to get the system looked (by dealer) near or around this suspected expiration date? Its not a bad theory…and I may be completely WRONG here…but doesn’t it make a little sense? What do you think?

@ Thanks everyone.

Since the light seems to be functioning normally now I think I’ll pass on the dealership for now. I can’t afford a new car and it runs well and still looks good.

@ Honda Blackbird

No I don’t drive in heavy traffic. I change the oil that frequently because the 1999 Toyota engines were given an extended warranty because of a “sludge” build up problem. Being paranoid I decided to change the oil every 2500 miles. Though the exteneded warranty expired after ten years or 60,000(?) miles I kept the same routine.