What Does SRS Mean? And Why Is the SRS Light Illuminated on My Car's Dashboard?

Have you noticed the SRS light illuminate on your car’s dashboard recently, but you have no idea what it means or if this is something you ought to be concerned about? Maybe you’ve seen the “SRS” icon on your dashboard a million times and just thought to yourself, “What does SRS mean?”. Keep reading for the lowdown on what does SRS mean to ensure you don’t run into any surprises when you hit rubber to the road.

What Exactly Is An SRS?

SRS is an acronym for Supplemental Restraint System, which is the technical term for your car’s Airbag System. If you’ve hunted for new car prices, used car values, or peeked at the car inspection checklists when purchasing or selling a vehicle, you’ve probably seen this name come up.

The SRS falls into the category of a passive safety mechanism, so it does not require any action from the driver or passengers to activate. Airbag systems go back to 1952, but they didn't become a more common fixture for vehicles by the 1970s. Airbag deployment systems have continued to change and develop over the years. The SRS systems of today are much more complicated than the original devices, with algorithms and triggering mechanisms that help cut back unnecessary deployments.

Airbag control units receive sensor messages regarding factors such as the speed of the car and force from a collision, which could activate the deployment of further restraint mechanisms. These include airbags and seatbelt pretensioners.

Why Does the SRS Light Matter?

The SRS light is vital because if you see it illuminated your car’s Airbag System is putting you on alert that there is an issue and the control unit has deactivated the system. In simple terms, this means that if you get into an accident, your airbags won’t deploy.

What Does It Mean If Your Car’s SRS Light Is On?

Your vehicle’s integrated onboard computer will activate the SRS light if it detects that the system will not operate properly or will function beyond its intended capacity. The SRS device exists to deploy airbags and to tighten occupants’ seatbelts if the computer detects a collision. Depending on the model car you own, your system could also shut down the fuel pump and disconnect your battery to reduce risk of fire.

Use a car finder tool to determine what specs your vehicle includes that might affect your SRS system. When the SRS warning light goes on, this essentially means that your seat belt will be the only safety mechanism to protect you if you get into an accident. No matter how responsible of a driver you are, there is no way to predict the driving habits of other motorists on the road.

Apart from the potential danger to you and any passengers’ health and wellbeing should you get into an accident, a disabled SRS device doesn’t pose an immediate threat. It won’t shut down

your vehicle and leave you stranded. However, if you see your SRS light on, you should never ignore it and hope it will go away.

The SRS device is there to protect you if you get into an accident, so it is vital to invest the time, effort, and expense to find a trusted mechanic to resolve the issue for you. It could take time for the mechanic to run full diagnostics because they will need to run extensive checks on the device and wiring components.

The Cost of Fixing the SRS Light

Now that you know what does SRS mean, you’re likely wondering just how much you can expect to pay to resolve this issue once and for all. The cost of running the initial diagnostics can run anywhere from $100 to $200.

The mechanic may also require additional time to examine the extent of the issue. Once the mechanic finishes diagnosis, the cost of parts will come into play. There are few after-market parts for SRS systems to the nature of their design, so most mechanics have to order straight from the factory. The cost of parts varies widely and could range from as little as $75 up to $1,000. Here are a few examples:

●  A clock spring could cost between $75 to $125

●  A crash sensor replacement could also run in the $75 to $125 range

●  A full computer replacement could run from $800 up to $1,000

●  A seat belt mechanism could run upwards of $300

The ultimate cost will also depend on a variety of other factors such as the make and model of the vehicle you own, where you live, and the individual mechanic. The reputation and reliability of the mechanic you decide to pick should be your principal focus rather than cost concerns alone.