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  #1  
Old 05-02-2003, 12:01 PM
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jsun jsun is offline
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The frickin' airbag light is on again! This is the third time in about 6 months and represents the main reason why I keep returning to service. After much head-scratching by service (MINI of Peabody, and they seem quite good), "cleaning the connections" is the solution each time. Problem is, it's not a solution if the problem keeps returning, no?

This time, I'm going to get them to show me which connections they clean/re-connect. But still, when the light comes on, it means that the computer has set a fault...and I've been told that this means that the airbag system WILL NOT work entirely (e.g., only some bags will deploy) until the fault is reset. That makes it more urgent to actually get it fixed. Arghhhh.

Anyone else have their airbag system flake out this often?

(2002 MCS, 8/02 build)
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Old 05-02-2003, 12:24 PM
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Phobol Phobol is offline
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Does it happen after someone sits in the back or after a car wash? The airbag connecting cables in the seats are sometimes a little tight, so when you move the seat they can yank out, or you can accidently grab the cables whn you fiddle your fingers on the side wall of the seat, this all trips the airbag light. If that's the case, you just have to see where the cables are strapped, and pull them toward the connectors to give a little more slack.

Ask your dealer if they looked into that. I had a similar problem.


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  #3  
Old 05-02-2003, 01:50 PM
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jsun jsun is offline
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Thanks Phobol! They claim they've looked into the slack issue, but I should check again, and see for myself how much slack there is. Clearly this DOES happen when the seat is moved to provide access to the back seat; but I have someone (my kids) in the back a couple of times a week, and this doesn't happen but about every 2 months or so.

I think that the cables and connectors are just poorly designed/made. I've heard of this problem happening to several folks...I just think it may have happened to me more often than most.
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Old 05-13-2003, 10:07 AM
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jsun jsun is offline
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The saga continues, with some new info...

Last Friday, I visited service to get them to fix the airbag problem, and sure enough the problem was identified as a lose connection. The service folks said that there's a connector under the front edge of each seat where the car's wiring harness connects to the seat airbag harness. What they have discoved is that the connection breaks at that connector and the problem can be "solved" by cable tying both ends of the connector (or actually, the wires leading to the connector) to the seat itself. That way, when the seat moves, the entire connector moves. Apparently MINI has yet to implement this strategy at the factory.

So, they did that, reset the light and the computer, and I was on my way. Until Sunday, when the light came on again.

Back to the dealer I go today. This time, it turns out that the connector on the other seat (driver's this time) had come lose. Apparently service had neglected to tie both seats' connectors and the one they overlooked managed to fail over the weekend. So, they tied THIS side, reset the light, and I'm on my way again.

It was explained to me that when the connector comes slightly lose WHEN POWER IS ON, there's a very slight (microamp) drop in current and this is what triggers the computer to set a fault and your airbag light comes on. Most cars (not just MINIs) will set an airbag fault if there's a current drop, but apparently MINIs and new BMWs have particularly sensitive systems...a VERY slight drop will cause a problem. This can be caused by rough road conditions, and doesn't require an actual separation of the two sides of the connector. The only way to solve this (besides redesigning the connector altogether) is to secure both sides so tightly that no movement is possible.

Just thought that MCO folks would want to know about this...particularly if any of you have had this problem with your cars. Even if not yet, it may be a good idea to get the two sides of the seat airbag connectors (drivers and passenger) tied down in this way so that with age your car doesn't develop this annoying and unsafe problem.

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Old 05-14-2003, 09:50 AM
rataha rataha is offline
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Thanks for the info. The Cooper airbag light came on 2 day's ago. 200 mile drive to the dealer. Is it possible to reseat the connections, strap them down and reset the airbag light? Disconnect the battery????? Or am I destined for the long drive to the dealer???
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Old 05-14-2003, 10:15 AM
elblue elblue is offline
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JSUN, Do you have a picture of what this connector looks like, where it is located and what the tie down looks like? I've been to the dealer once and fully expect to have this happen again. If this is the problem it would be great to get a documented fix up here so we can avoid this problem going forward. There is nothing that irks me mote than taking time to go to a dealer to have a fault fixed.
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Old 05-14-2003, 11:39 AM
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I'll try to get a pic in the next week or so and post it. Kind of busy this week unfortunately Also, it may be hard to photograph this (w/o taking the seat out...which I'm not going to do). But I'll try.

But to address ratha's question (and elblue's same implied), no, you can't get the light to go off once it's on simply by tying down the connection. Once the computer detects a fault rightly or wrongly it sets a fault code that can only be reset by the dealer with the proper diagnostic equipment. Further, once a fault is set, the computer will not allow proper or "normal" operation of the airbag system. So, if your light is on you need to get your connection fixed and the fault code reset. This is why this problem is such a pain in the a$$...it requires a visit to the dealer.

BTW, I should note that this connection thing is not the ONLY reported flaw in the airbag system. I've also talked to several people (some at service getting their cars fixed at the same time as me) who have had different components fail. The "seat belt sensor" is one failure point. Others have had the entire airbag module replaced. But my dealer tells me that "most of the time" the problem is the connector.
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Old 05-14-2003, 12:32 PM
rataha rataha is offline
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thanks jsun!
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Old 05-14-2003, 01:27 PM
JoeS475 JoeS475 is offline
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I had the airbag light come on. When I took it to the dealer, they told me they rerouted the wires so they wouldn't get disturbed by moving the seat. No problems since.

I was told that the light being on would cause the seatbelt not to pull you backwards when in a collision. (It is supposed to tighten and yank you backwards, the way I understood it.) The belt would still hold you in place though, and the bags would still deploy.

~Joe

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Old 05-15-2003, 03:09 AM
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(mods, perhaps this thread should be moved into Beneath the Bonnet? Sorry I put in in MINI Talk to start...)

For those who've asked, here are some pictures of the relevent connectors, and how the cable is tied so as to move with the seat. Now that I've looked closely at it, I see that the explanation I got from service (and posted above) is somewhat incorrect, but the basic idea is still valid. Basically, what you're trying to do is to secure the cable (that runs into the airbag module connector) to the seat frame. As stock, the cable is not secured to the seat...and clearly from the pics you can see that if the cable were to get tugged (accidentally or whatever), it could wiggle the connector...and thus cause your airbag system to fault. Now, with the tie, that would be much harder to do.

Just a word of warning based on how I understand this system to work... Be sure that you do your cable tying WHEN YOUR CAR IS TURNED OFF. This means that there won't be any power going to the airbag unit, and thus if you wiggle the connector while doing it, you will not set a fault. It would be ironic to actually cause the problem while trying to prevent it.

Click the image to open in full size.(^ passenger side...note the cable tie below the 3 colored connectors)
Click the image to open in full size.(^ passenger side again...see the cable coming out of the floor of the car)
Click the image to open in full size.(^ driver's side...just for reference. Tied slightly differently, but the same basic idea)

In response to JoeS475...my understanding of how the airbag system works is that it's a "smart" system. This means that the computer controls which of the six airbags are deployed and at what force in the event of a collision. If your computer believes that some of the airbags are inoperative, then it will not deploy the correct bags or may deploy some at the wrong force (a serious problem)...or perhaps deploy nothing at all. Point is, it's screwed up and doesn't work properly if there's a fault set in the system. That's why it's important to get this issue attended to if your airbag light is on.

Cable "rerouting" is the BMW-sanctioned cure, but actually does little to prevent the cable from pulling lose from the connectors. It makes much more sense to tie the cable to something that moves with the connectors. Apparently, these cars come from the factory with the cable routed a variety of differnet ways AND with a varying amount of cable slack. That's why some people have not had this problem...and others get it repeatedly.

Also, I'm not sure that the seat belt "retraction" is a computer-controlled function (i.e., there's probably no connection to the airbag system). Rather, I think that in the event of a front or back collision your belt retractors lock up via a gravity clutch just like in nearly every other modern car. The seat belt "sensor" that is sometimes at fault in airbag light issues is actually just sensing if your belts are in-use (i.e., latched). This data is then fed into the smart airbag system to help the computer decide which bags to deploy and at what force. I could be wrong about that though.
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Old 05-15-2003, 10:42 AM
DocSandi DocSandi is offline
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jasun,

Great pics man. Our airbag light came on for the second time just recently 6700 miles on the car now. The first time the dealer told me it was the driver's side seat belt buckle. According to them it was not the first they have found.

A couple of months later here we go again. Took it in. Pain in the butt cause it's about 200 miles to our dealer. Anyway this time it is a wiring harness. Which one, I didn't ask. But of course they didn't have it in stock. It is now in, and we have an appt. on the 29th. So we will see what happens. Hopefully this is the last we will have to address this prob.

Just a word of what we've found.

Will also let my dealer know of your solution, THANKS
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Old 05-15-2003, 11:43 AM
4GAZM 4GAZM is offline
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yep 4 times already, my mini is at the dealer now getting new breaks and the airbag light fixed, i will send this to my sevice manager so he has an idea of how to correct this problem!!!!!
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Old 05-18-2003, 05:41 PM
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phames phames is offline
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I too had similar problems, the airbag light came on after both seats had been cycled full front to full back to let people out of the back seat. I looked under the seats to check out the connectors and discovered that five of the six connectors were "connected" but were not latched. I pushed on all of them and five gave me a nice satisfying click as they latched, one was latched. If your light is on, or goes on and off, I would suggest making sure that all of the conenctors are latched. Again, make sure you do this will the ley switch off, to minimze the chance of accidentally setting off a side airbag.
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Old 08-31-2010, 11:19 PM
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innerjon innerjon is offline
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My airbag light was coming on intermittently, I finally figured out it was because the glovebox light was out. Check all your bulbs. I don't know why it does this.l, I guess it's like when the gas tank covers loose.
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Old 09-01-2010, 01:58 AM
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My airbag light was coming on intermittently, I finally figured out it was because the glovebox light was out. Check all your bulbs. I don't know why it does this.l, I guess it's like when the gas tank covers loose.
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Old 09-01-2010, 01:58 AM
 
 
 
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