Auto Airbag System Repair/Clock Spring


QUESTION: Hello. I have a 2008 Chevy Cobalt, and I was replacing the rack and pinion and accidentally turned the steering shaft. I thought It put it back to where it was, but apparently I went the wrong way. When I tested the wheel, I heard a small pop, and what sounded like the clockspring ribbon. So of course when I got everything back together, the Air Bag light was on. All of my steering wheel features worked, but the light was on.
I bought another clockspring off eBay, from a vehicle that didn't have deploy airbags. I replaced mine, but the airbag light is still on. All of my steering controls are still functional, but I can't get rid of that pesky light. I've heard from some people that the system checks itself every time it starts, and if the clockspring was ok, it'd shut the light off, and I've also heard that you have to go the the dealership to get the light off. Which is true? Should it shut itself off, or does it have to be reset? I'm not sure if I need to take it to the dealer to pay to have the light reset, or just pay for a new clockspring...

ANSWER: Hi Darryl:
Sorry about your airbag issue.
Sadly, GM requires a scan tool to reset the airbag light.  All cars do run continuous checks when the key is on, but once the light has tripped a code on GM, it stays there until someone erases it.  Many other manufacturers will reset themselves, but not GM.  Hopefully your replacement clockspring is good, otherwise, you may get a call when they try to reset it telling you it's still bad.

That's all I can offer

Good luck.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


I took the car to a shop, and they reset the codes but they came back. The codes were 0012 and 0013. He said according to alldata, it takes 100 fault free cycles to clear it. Do I need to just continue driving for 100 free cycles, or should the code have stayed gone when he cleared it, if the clock spring was good?

Also, what's considered an ignition cycle? Could I simple sit in the driveway and start the car up and turn it off, or does it need to be driven for an amount of time, per cycle?

Hello Again Darryl.

The codes you refer to are not for an clockspring or the drivers airbag circuit.
Here are the fault code descriptions for 12 & 13 for a 2008 Cobalt.
B0012 Passenger Airbag Circuit - Resistance Low
B0013 Passenger Airbag Circuit -Open

Do you have an on-off switch for the passenger airbag?  Can you deactivate it?  If so, switch it from what it is set to now and see if that remedies the situation.

It appears you have another issue, that's why they keep coming back.  Once they are cleared, they will not return.  The 100 cycles is for the "check engine" light.  A fault in the check engine can be cleared but it does not leave the system for 100 stays in history codes.  A cycle is indeed simply turning the key to "on", then "off" one time.  

It sounds like its getting worse, not better.  I would find another dealer, who has access to the information and knows a little more about airbags...perhaps an airbag specialty company in your area.  Call a couple of body shops and ask if there is such a company in your town.

I hope this is helping.

Auto Airbag System Repair

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Douglas Gan


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