Be Bright Like the Warning Light!

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Motor Vehicle Safety
Information: 1-800-333-0371
TP 14665 E
Vehicle Safety Advisory
V 2014-01 E
September 2014

Warning Lights and Indicators

Warning lights can signal that something is wrong before it becomes serious enough to cause an expensive repair or replacement. Paying attention to your warning lights could also save you or others from injury.

Warning lights come on when there may be a problem with one of your vehicle’s functions. Some warning lights come on briefly when you start the engine just to let you know they’re working. You should not be alarmed when this happens. However, when one of the warning lights comes on and stays on when you are driving, check the owner’s manual and follow the instructions. Waiting to do repairs can be costly—and even dangerous. So please get to know your warning lights. They’re a big help!

Airbag Readiness Light

There is an airbag readiness light in the instrument cluster, which shows the airbag symbol. The system checks the airbag’s electrical system for malfunctions. The light tells you if there is a problem.

Airbag Readiness Light

Figure 1 – Airbag Readiness Light

This light will come on when you start your vehicle, and it will flash for a few seconds. Then the light should go out. This means the system is ready. If the light doesn’t come on when you turn the ignition key to RUN, have it fixed so that it will be ready to warn you if there is a problem. If the airbag readiness light stays on continuously after you start the vehicle or comes on when you are driving, your airbag system may not work properly. The airbags in your vehicle may not inflate in a collision, or they could even inflate without a collision. Have your vehicle serviced right away.

Transport Canada has examined a number of fatal frontal motor vehicle collisions in which the vehicle occupants may have survived if the airbags had deployed. We also found that the drivers had used these vehicles when the airbag readiness light had remained on, for weeks or even months before the collision. The airbag readiness light had turned ON specifically to warn drivers of a malfunctioning airbag system.

The airbag readiness light is not to be mistaken for the passenger airbag status indicator. A passenger airbag status indicator can be found on the instrument panel of vehicles equipped with a front, passenger-side sensing system. The status indicator will light up either the ON or OFF symbol to let you know the status of the right front passenger’s frontal airbag (enabled or disabled). Please consult your owner’s manual for details.

airbag status

Figure 2 – Passenger Airbag Status Indicator

Transport Canada reminds individual owners as well as fleet operators, car rental companies and used car dealerships, that they have a responsibility, not only for their own personal safety, but for the safety of those who drive their vehicles, their passengers, any future owners, and other road users.

Dealers:  If you do not have the parts you need to repair a vehicle when the airbag readiness light remains on, advise the owner not to drive the vehicle until you can correct the problem – unless you can confirm that the airbag system is working properly.

Pay attention to all your in-vehicle warning lights. They indicate that there may be a problem with one of your vehicle’s functions. If a warning light comes on, have a dealer or licensed auto repair facility diagnose and repair the problem without delay. Ignoring warning lights could contribute to injury or death to you and your passengers.

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