Today’s cars and trucks are very safety oriented. With the addition of many accident prevention items, there has also been a lot of new airbag technology lately. Everything from side airbags, which protect in a side impact, to the latest head curtain airbags which help in a rollover accident and also provide more safety on side impacts as well if so equipped. With all this new technology, comes a lot more components to the system, wiring and connectors. Take for instance the 2010 and up Chevrolet Malibu.
With the addition of driver and passenger side impact protection, which basically means there is an airbag in each of the front seats, there is much more wiring in the seats and floor. This added wiring and related connectors has had a few problems as of late. What is happening, is with the back and forth movement of both the driver’s and passenger’s front seat, this is causing tension on the side airbag connectors underneath the seats. Now, we all have to get in and out of the backseat, put our belongings back there, and the kids as well! The thing is, there is only so much room for the wiring harness to have play in it without it being extremely loose and having to lay on the floor.
As the seat moves, it pulls ever so slightly on the harness that comes out of the floor and goes to the seat. Airbag connectors are probably the most sensitive connectors on any vehicle, and even the slightest movement can result in the terminals inside the connector to not have full contact. With this movement, and the terminals in the connector not fully touching, that adds resistance to the circuit. The SDM (airbag computer) senses this resistance and will set a trouble code for whichever seat is causing the problem. It is always looking for a certain amount of resistance in the circuit, along with the rest of the system to determine the state of health of the airbags and if/when deployment is needed. When the reading is just a little off, the computer can’t do it’s job correctly and alerts the driver by setting the airbag light on and usually a ‘service air bag’ message in the driver information center.
General Motors has a fix for this problem by having us technicians wire in new style connectors. These new connectors are a bit larger and heavier duty than the smaller previous ones. The terminals are much larger which helps maintain a positive connection, even with seat movement. I’ve personally done this repair to probably 30 cars or more! This usually does the trick and the customer does not have to worry about any side airbag problems any more.
A little side note to this story, and an added problem that the customer usually causes on their own….don’t shove large objects under either front seat!! I’ve had cars come in with the airbag light on, only to find an umbrella, shoes, or a large water bottle shoved underneath one of the seats!! This almost always dislodges the airbag connector and can set the light on. Remember there are delicate electronics under there! Especially now with Passenger Presence Systems, the underside of the seats is jam packed with modules, wiring, connectors, and other electronics. Keep a keen eye on that and you should never have a problem.
I’m having a problem with the horn on my 1999 Chevy Malibu LS. It will not honk from the steering wheel. When I lock the doors with the key fob, it will honk signaling that it has locked. We tried switching the relay, but it didn’t help. Any ideas?
Just a moment and let me look at few things please…
Well, the problem would not be in the relay or anything after the relay- including the wiring and the horns, since they do function. Both the remote circuit and the horn pad circuit go through the relay. The most likely problem is in the horn pad or horn contacts.
How do I work on the steering wheel without setting off the air bag?
You will need to remove the Airbag fuse and disconnect the connector under the steering column. It is a yellow connector.
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18 Comments on "Chevrolet Malibu Air Bag Light And Codes"
Just bought car and the service airbag light is on. I took it to a shop and they said it was the passenger occupancy sensor, I looked at all the plugs and wires and everything looks fine, The seat don’t sense when there is someone in it. I don’t know what to do and can’t afford to take it to chevy, any idea as to what I can do?
Nisanni Brothers Chevrolet (formerly Hooman, formerly Bunnin) in Culver City, California, refused to even check out the airbag light problem with our 2011 Chevy Malibu LTZ unless we paid them $200!! This is a manufacturer problem, not an issue caused by the vehicle owner. This is a KNOWN vehicle defect. I find it reprehensible that they would take advantage of an owner knowing full well that it is a manufacturer issue.
Your Dealer is NOT Chevrolet & they do not hold the warranty. If they took it upon themselves to repair every ” known problem: ” at their own expense they would not be around long. Call Chevrolet zone,,, they handle the warranty
My airbag exploded today after i started it (driver seat) what should i do or who should i call
Do you have the part numbers of the bigger connectors that you mentioned? My chevy dealer can’t find the part numbers for the connectors by themselves, only the whole harness.
Malibu 2011 a/c works properly for few weeks than stops cooling last two times I have unplug battery for few minutes and then it starts working again this last I unplug battery it did not work for two days air does come out but does not cold air , turn on air to remove fog from windshield and a/c started working again what can it be ?
Couple days later my car was hesitant to start and now the Service Airbags light is on. I ll be taking it to the dealership tomorrow and from reading the reviews will be out of pocket a nice chunk of change.
I have a 2009 doing the same thing blows hot. Then will start blowing cool again. Does it from time to time.
I noticed the positive cable connector was completely corroded to the point that the connector came off by hand.
Was there a recall on 2010 Malibu LTZ air bag light being on to servkice.
We have a 2010 chevrolet Malibu- Is it on recall for defective air bags?
We drive a Chevrolet Malibu 2010 is there a re.call for the defective airbags
I have a 2010 chev malibu I was in a accident 4 days ago my air bags did not deloy not one of them. Any advice
Thank you so much for the info. My 2007 Malibu LT just had the “Service Airbag” light come on after I was detailing the interior. Sure enough, I just unplugged the seat connectors, blew them off, then reconnected and the light went off.
If the light comes back on, then you need to contact your local dealer. There was a recall on these airbag connector problems under the seat. Call them to see if the airbag recall still applies to your Malibu.
I am curious to know the answer to this in regards to my airbags. I was driving on the highway doing 65 when the vechile infront of me stopped short i braked to the point where the tires locked up, in the process of avoiding the car infront of me i was rear ended at quite a moderate speed and pushed about 20 feet. I drive a 2011 Chevy malibu and the car that rear ended me was an a few years older than mine. the question is with the impact my car sustained why didnt my air bags go off????? The other car’s airbags did not deploy either! Are these cars even safe???? I am sure the answer i will get from alot of people is i must not of gotten hit hard enough for them to deploy but i beg to differ it was quite a hit to push me 20 more feet up the highway
Air bags only deploy on frontal impacts, usually within about 30 degrees of head on and you have to drop 18-20 mile an hour instantly for them to deploy. Air bags will not deploy from a rear impact.