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Passenger Seat Occupant Sensor Problem – Airbag Reset Tool

10:49 am Auto Shop Tools, How To Auto Repair


© Summary: Auto repair information related to the “weight sensor” otherwise known as the Occupant Classification Sensor for SRS systems. Modern Safety Restraint Systems typically use a sensor in the passenger front seat to indicate if a passenger is present. If no one is in the seat, the system will not deploy the passenger side air bag in the event of an accident.

In some older vehicles, a less sophisticated system allowed the passenger side airbag to be turned off manually. This was especially useful when small children occupied the passenger front seat. Research showed due to the children’s size, they could sustain more injuries from the force of airbag than an adult. Therefore it was determined it was best to turn the bag off when children were riding in the passenger front seat. More advanced systems determine if someone is present in the seat, disarming the air bag when a passenger is NOT present. Some systems even determine the weight of the passenger as to allow adjustment of the airbag force in the event of an accident. One component of the ARS (Advanced Restraint System) incorporates the use of a sensor that is under the seat cover as pictured above. This type of system may have an indicator on the dash, which tells the driver if the airbag is on or off.

A recent blog reader and visitor to our automotive tool website was considering the purchase of an Air Bag Reset Tool. He had the following question.

Question: I have a 96 Kia Rio. I spilled a cup of coffee on the passenger seat and the seat belt light went on.  This has a dash feature which tells me if the passenger airbag is off. It seems to be working backwards. When someone sits in the passenger seat, it goes off. When no one is in the seat the indicator lights up. Can a scan tool reset my airbag light?
Answer: I assume you are talking about a 2006 and not a 1996. The first Kia Rio produced for sale in the USA was 2001. The passenger seat occupant sensor has most likely been shorted by the mishandled cup of Joe. You may want to remove the occupant sensor (located just under the upholstery material) and clean it. However, most likely it will need to be replaced. Be sure to consult a service manual for safe and proper handling to help prevent accidental deployment of an airbag. Typical instructions will tell you to disconnect the negative battery cable for at least three minutes before getting to work. On some other models, a scan tool may be needed. However, on this particular model, you should NOT have to reset this after problem has been corrected.

See the related links below for an inexpensive air bag rest tool that many body shops are finding very helpful Also visit our repair manual information page for more specific model info. and instructions.

Related Links

AirBag Reset Tool

5 Responses
  1. Barry :

    Date: April 1, 2011 @ 4:54 am

    I need to recalibrate the passenger seat on 2005 Grand Cherokee. My Launch, purchased from you btw, wont do it. Could you tell me of any scanners that you offer for sale that might do the ocm recalibration procedure. Thanks.

  2. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: April 1, 2011 @ 6:24 am

    Barry, Thanks for the comment and your previous purchase. The Launch Scan Tool’s strong point is with foreign vehiclces. I would refer to a repair manual (or Identifix) for more information on recalibration procedures. In many cases, the sensor needs to just be “replaced.” Good Luck

  3. pete :

    Date: May 17, 2016 @ 6:21 pm

    My 2015 chevy captiva passenger seat sensor is malfunctioning sometimes shows off when passenger in seat I had chevy dealer check and they quoted me 816.00 to fix/repair with new sensor this sounds rather much seeing as this has been an ongoing problem with this series vehicles

  4. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: May 17, 2016 @ 6:24 pm

    Agreed. Too bad your 2015 is not still under factory warranty. Must be out by miles. Good Luck.

  5. Wise Auto Tool Blog » Exploding Takata Airbags? Check the Recall List :

    Date: May 29, 2021 @ 9:31 am

    […] why the passenger side air bag doesn’t deploy unless there’s person in the seat? A passenger side occupant sensor which is inside the seat can tell the computer if anyone is sitting in the seat or not. I once had […]

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