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  • The supplemental restraint system (SRS) controls your vehicle’s airbags and pretensioners.
  • An illuminated SRS light on the dashboard indicates a problem with the airbag system that might prevent it from deploying in an accident.
  • Airbags reduce the chance of your head or upper body hitting the steering wheel or the dashboard in high-speed and low-speed crashes.
  • Always maintain a proper driving position and wear seat belts in cars equipped with airbags.

You might have noticed a small label on your steering wheel or your passenger-side dashboard that reads “SRS air bag.” You can also find the same acronym in a warning indicator in your dashboard. What does SRS mean and why is it important?

What does SRS mean? 

SRS stands for supplemental restraint system, and it’s responsible for controlling your vehicle’s air bags and pretensioners. The system is computerized and is designed to work without any actions from the driver or passengers, which is why air bags are called passive safety devices. Several sensors spread around the vehicle detect information such as deceleration, braking, and impact location. It also detects whether a passenger is present in the front passenger seat.

In the event of an accident, the system’s sensors will detect changes and send a message to the car’s air bag control unit. The air bag control unit will activate the air bags of seats that have passengers.

srs airbag
SRS stands for supplemental restraint system, and it’s responsible for controlling your vehicle’s air bags and pretensioners.

Why Does the SRS Light Come On?

There are several different types of air bags in modern automobiles, and they all require finely calibrated sensors to work. The system is designed to reduce unnecessary deployment of the vehicle’s different air bags, but it also means it may need to be checked on a regular basis. If the SRS light on the dashboard activates, it indicates that there is a problem with the air bag system and it may not deploy in an accident. This may put you and your passengers at risk in case of a collision.

How Do Air Bags Protect You In an Accident?

Air bags are there to protect you in moderate to severe crashes. However, they can also deploy in low-speed crashes.

Trauma and damage to the head and brain are the most common causes of fatal injuries in a crash. Air bags are designed to reduce the chance of your head or upper body hitting the steering wheel or the dashboard in case of a crash. They are able to do this by quickly inflating and absorbing the force of the impact instead, preventing you and your passengers from hitting hard surfaces. They are also able to decelerate your body slowly.

During an impact, the air bag control unit first sends a signal to the air bag’s inflator unit. When the inflator receives this signal, the igniter starts a chemical reaction that quickly produces a harmless gas that inflates the air bag in less than 1/20th of a second. While the gas is harmless, the explosion can cause serious or sometimes fatal injuries if the passenger is too close to the air bag when it deploys. This is why it’s important to always maintain a proper driving position and why it’s important to still wear seat belts even in cars equipped with air bags. As their name suggests, air bags are there to supplement your seat belts.

Vehicle safety has come a long way. Before 1968, seatbelts weren’t even mandatory in vehicles. Now, there are a lot of safety features that are standard in most cars, and the SRS is just one of them. If the SRS light on your vehicle illuminates, make sure you have it checked to ensure that you’ll benefit from the protection it provides.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

File Under : Automotive World
Garage Essentials
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