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A collection of helpful articles based on reader submissions
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Below is a collection of Jim Grant's Tech Tips sorted by Vehicle Make. These Tech Tips were answers to questions submitted to Jim by ALLDATAdiy.com users over the course of many years.
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  Jim Grant's Tech Tips

'97 Honda Accord, Repeat Air Bag Offense

Q: The SRS (airbag) light on my ’97 Honda Accord came on and stayed on. The dealer charged me $75 for a scan, turned the light off, and said there was no problem. Four months later it came on again. The dealer wanted another $75 to check it out again. A complaint to the service manager got the computer scan for free but the diagnosis was the need for a new passenger side air bag at about $1200. When pressed as to what exactly was wrong, the mechanic could only say, “The codes are bad”. He turned the light off and said that the air bag would work if the light didn’t come on again. I think they don’t know what the problem is and don’t want to do any more free scans. What do you think?

A: You’re probably right that they don’t know what’s wrong with your air bag system and here’s why. The self-diagnostics in your vehicle air bag system is always monitoring for a system problem. When a problem is noted the air bag computer turns the warning light on and stores a code for it. The tech, with a scan tool, retrieves the fault code or codes from the computer for diagnosis. Seems pretty straight forward doesn’t it? That’s because that was the easy part. What is likely happening with your vehicle is an intermittent fault/problem. The problem occurs, the computer records and turns on the warning light. Before you get to the shop the problem goes away. When the tech turns the warning light off, the computer checks the system again. If everything is okay the computer leaves the warning light off, because nothing is broken at that time. The tech may have a code for the passenger side air bag but how will he/she prove what parts are needed if the problem is not present? Guess? Air bar parts are pretty pricey to be guessing. There is the air bag, wiring and air bag computer. Any one of those components could be the cause for the problem, but if they’re not broken at that time, how does the tech prove what you need? They simply cannot. Intermittent problems just get everyone mad. I will not deny your car may have a problem. It’s not fair to push for a solution until the vehicle is broken better. If you want more than that get the check book and start guessing which part you’d like replaced first.

 
     
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