Many Kia Rio, Optima, Sedona, Forte owners have complained about the airbag light coming on either intermittently, blinking, or illuminating and staying on while driving.
Everything else in the car operates as normal in all of these cases, aside from the airbag light being on.
It means that the restraint system has detected a problem with one of the airbags or airbag sensors and the airbags may not deploy if you get in an accident.
In this article, you will learn about Kia airbag problems. What can trigger airbag / SRS light to come on and how to troubleshoot Kia airbag light yourself.
List of problems that can trigger Kia airbag light to come on:
Passenger occupancy sensor (front passenger seat)
To find out why your Kia airbag light is on you will need to read the fault codes from the airbag module.
You need a scanner that can read airbag codes.
Here is a list of common problems that can cause the airbag light to come on in your Kia car.
The airbag / SRS module consists of multiple components, and any of them could malfunction. Without reading the codes it is hard to know the root of the problem.
Kia cars are equipped with an occupant detection system. It includes a sensor in the passenger seat that can detect the presence of a passenger in the seat. The reason for this system is that if no-one is sitting in the passenger seat and you get involved in an accident, the passenger airbag will not deploy, no need for it.
Often this will trigger B1448 OBS Mat Defective fault code. Other trouble codes can be triggered such as B1447 B1448 B1764 B1767 which point to a faulty seat occupant sensor mat.
The passenger airbag should not deploy in case there is an infant or child seated in the passenger seat. Under normal operation, the PASSENGER AIR BAG "OFF" indicator light should be off when an adult is sitting in the passenger seat.
The light should be ON when an infant or child is sitting on the passenger seat.
Ensure that the electrical connection under the passenger seat is not loose or disconnected. This is a common problem with Kia vehicles. Once you eliminate the connection under the passenger seat you need to inspect the passenger mat (occupant detection sensor).
If the occupant detection sensor is defective it needs to be replaced. The first thing you need to do is call your Kia dealer and check if there is a service bulletin out for this repair. In other words, the dealer may fix this problem for you free of charge if there is a recall on this issue.
It is possible that you may trigger the airbag / SRS warning :
In such cases the vehicle detects low voltage and the airbag control module triggers the airbag light. To avoid such problems, you should always turn off the ignition and remove the key when you replace the battery.
If you have a dead battery, it is best to fully charge your battery with a trickle charger.
Always remove the key from ignition if you are checking fuses and especially if you remove the airbag fuse.
Replace the battery if over five years old. If the battery is newer fully charge the battery.
Next, follow the instructions on how to read and clear the codes from the airbag control module on a Kia.
If your Kia has been involved in an accident, the airbag module will store crash data. If any of airbag deployed, the car was an accident crash data would be stored in Kia airbag module.
It is important to understand that Kia's airbag system is controlled by the airbag (SRS) module, which is a computer component.
This component runs a particular type of software that is written specifically for that component (in this case, the airbag system) and the software runs on a chip, called an EEPROM.
The software dictates how the airbag system operates. In some cases, the EEPROM needs to be updated and reprogrammed because of an error. This problem has to be handled by the dealership, as they may send the unit off to an IT company which reprograms it and sends it back to them, at which point they can reinstall it in your vehicle.
If you have the dealer diagnose the vehicle in most cases, they will recommend replacing the module. It is possible however to get your existing airbag module reset.
Instead of buying a new module, which costs several hundred dollars consider having a repair center reset your existing module. You can find such service even online, see Kia Airbag SRS RCM SDM ACM Module Reset Service.
These services will clear both hard and soft codes from the airbag module. Once you receive your unit back, you will not need to do any additional programming or go back to the dealer for programming.
If the SRS system in your Kia is not working properly the airbag warning light will illuminate in your instrument cluster. When there is a problem with the passenger detection system the PASSENGER AIR BAG "OFF" light will not turn on and the passenger airbag may deploy even if there are no passengers in the front seat.
Furthermore, in February 2016, Kia issued a service bulletin, which is given to all Kia dealerships service departments, providing information on the replacement of a weight sensor mat, located in the front passenger seat.
The purpose of the sensor mat is to detect child seats or other lightweight occupants who could be harmed by the deployment of the passenger side airbag in the event of an accident.
If the sensor mat is not operating properly (meaning that the airbag would deploy if a lightweight occupant was present, which could potentially harm them), then the airbag light on the instrument cluster will be lit and a few diagnostic trouble codes could be stored: B1447, B1448, B1449, and/or B1550.
Kia extended the warranty coverage for this repair upon the release of this bulletin to 15 years / unlimited mileage, starting from the date of first service. Coverage will be provided for its replacement provided that the condition is not caused by external damage to the sensor mat.
B1448 - Points to a defective mat. This is the occupant sensor on the passenger seat. Can be purchased used and replaced. May require a diagnostic scanner to clear the fault codes. Some owners install a what is known as seat occupant sensor bypass which emulates the occupant sensor. This is not a proper repair and is not recommended. Using an emulator to bypass the occupant sensor will cause the airbag to deploy even if a child is sitting on the front seat.