Enable passenger side air bag on 2004 Camry LE

I just had the engine on my 2004 Toyota Camry LE replaced (since the engine had over 300,00 miles on it).

Now ever since the engine has bee replaced I have a LED on my dash that stays lit at all times that says "Air Bag off" (see the picture). There are no other lights on or problems with my vehicle such as the check engine light or the perform maintenance light.

This light stays lit saying "Air Bag off" at all times including while someone is riding in the front passenger side seat with the seat belt buckled or unbuckled and says the same thing when no one is in the front passenger side seat.

Before the engine was replaced this light would only appear if someone was sitting in the front passenger side seat without the seat belt buckled.

A mechanic at the place where I had the engine replaced at says that there is a switch somewhere that needs to be flipped to re-enable the passenger side air bag. Other people have told me that this is nothing to worry about. I have been told by my mechanic that he will research how to fix this but I haven't heard back from him after a week.

I would like to make sure that the passenger side air bag is enabled at all times while the passenger side seat belt is buckled to ensure the safety of my passengers.

What needs to be done to make sure that the passenger side air bag is enabled? I will not attempt to make this change myself but will simply provide my mechanic with the instructions on how to do this.

AIR-BAG-OFF
IT GuyNetwork EngineerAsked:
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Rich WeisslerProfessional Troublemaker^h^h^h^h^hshooterCommented:
Probably not a switch (unless you plan to set it as armed all the time, not the recommended solution.)  Instead, it's more likely the be a broken wire or disconnected connector.  This article gives more detailed (if a little humourous) description of diagnosing and fixing.
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Dr. KlahnPrincipal Software EngineerCommented:
This is an issue that should probably be left in the hands of your mechanic.  Airbags fall under Federal safety law, plus if it goes off while you're working on it you could lose a nose or worse - there are still millions of those not-recalled airbags out there ready to blow metal shards into your face.
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IT GuyNetwork EngineerAuthor Commented:
Yes I won't try to do any of this myself and will only allow my mechanic to do this.

I'm simply trying to find instructions on how to fix this that I can provide my mechanic with so I can get this fixed sooner rather than later.
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BillDLCommented:
I'm a little puzzled by the dashboard display shown in your photo.  The "Airbag" and "Off" are both illuminated, but "Passenger" is not illuminated.  I am not familiar with Toyota dashboard displays, but I would have thought that "Passenger" should also be illuminated if it relates to the passenger side airbag.  My interpretation of the display, although I could be wrong, is that "Airbag Off" refers to main airbag on the driver's side, and if "Passenger" also lights up then it is telling you that driver and passenger airbags are off.

This only happened after a new engine was fitted?  Was any other work done inside the car?

This could simply have been caused by the battery being disconnected and the "fault" needing to be cleared from the dashboard.   For example, if your exhaust/muffler blows it will usually show an "emissions" fault light on the dash, and if your Lamda Sensor (O2 sensor) becomes faulty it may show a fault light on the dash.  Even after you repair the exhaust pipe or replace the sensor the fault light often remains on, and you need to connect an OBD-II (On Board Diagnostics) electronic device to the (usually) standardised socket on your car, isolate the DTC (Diagnostic Trouble Code), and reset the fault to make it go away.  Auto shops charge a fortune for doing this very simple task even though you could actually buy your own OBD2 device for half the money mechanics charge to use their devices.

Modern airbags are quite complicated because they have to deploy partially or fully depending on various factors including whether the seat is occupied and the seat belt is in use at the time of a collision.  The reason for the "seat belt in use" sensor is that the airbag bursting through the plastic on the dashboard/console could cause serious injuries if the person's face is too close when it deploys, such as would be the case if the person was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown forwards.   The driver's side bag will deploy in all cases, but most modern cars have an "occupancy sensor" on the passenger seat and this is linked to either the seat belt socket or the pre-tensioner (I am not sure which).

A common issue I have read about, and one that you could test for, is where the plug for the occupancy sensor under the passenger seat has come loose from or in the socket.  If the mechanic rammed the passenger seat back for more space to work and that seat has been set in one position for a long time it could possibly have dislodged the plug.  With all electrical connections and sensors it is usually a good idea to leave the ignition off for a while before fiddling so that residual current drains away, and this would be important for such a connector because you could potentially trigger and deploy the airbag while fiddling around.

Has the car been involved in a collision?  Even a slight bump that did not trigger the airbags?

Cars have collision sensors behind the bumper and sometimes in other concealed places.  Even a slight bump could have dislodged wiring to the sensor or triggered the sensor and revealed a fault in the sensor but not deployed the airbags.  A mechanic removing the old engine and dropping in a new one has to disconnect a lot of components and could have dislodged wiring to the sensor or failed to reconnect it.

The Fiat that I am currently driving is an insurance write-off rebuild that I bought from an ex-mechanic colleague who snaps up some really good buys with only minimal damage at salvage auctions.  I do recall that he had to get a qualified Fiat mechanic friend to reset the seat belt sensor for the airbag before I bought it from him because it had been involved in a frontal collision and one of the airbags had deployed.

>>> "A mechanic at the place where I had the engine replaced at says that there is a switch somewhere that needs to be flipped to re-enable the passenger side air bag.  I have been told by my mechanic that he will research how to fix this but I haven't heard back from him after a week." <<<

>>> "I will not attempt to make this change myself but will simply provide my mechanic with the instructions on how to do this.  I'm simply trying to find instructions on how to fix this that I can provide my mechanic with so I can get this fixed sooner rather than later." <<<


 No mechanic knows everything about every make and model of car, and often they need to research uncommon issues, so his response is not necessarily an indication that he doesn't know what he is doing, however I would warn against using a mechanic who would accept instructions from a lay person or rely on such instructions for something as important as a safety feature.
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IT GuyNetwork EngineerAuthor Commented:
The "Passenger" as well as the "E/M" are both written on the plastic dashboard cover and are not meant to light up or illuminate. They are simply labels for the LED lights above them. This display with the time and this "Passenger Airbag off" are in the middle of the dashboard.

There is another light that indicates if the driver side airbag is disabled directly underneath the speedometer.

This car has never been involved in a collision.

I'm simply trying to get the official instructions on how to interpret, troubleshoot, and fix this so that I can prod my mechanic to get this fixed.

Does anyone else have any further information?
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BillDLCommented:
Thank you Knowledgeable
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