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Nissan Repair/1997 Nissan Pickup (Hardbody)


QUESTION: I own a 1997 Nissan Pickup and was in an accident where the airbag deployed. I am ready to begin the repair process. My question is how does the airbag get set off and what do I need to replace? Obviously I will need an airbag, but do I need a new steering column or airbag computer or anything else? Also, when the accident happened I put the truck in park and now the gear selector on the floor won't move out of park. Transmission fluid was lost along with antifreeze. Does the transmission require fluid to shift out of park? If not, what could the issue be? The cooling fan and frame appear to be in good condition so I don't believe the engine moved back in the accident. The truck has a lot of sentimental value so I will never get rid of the truck. I appreciate all responses, comments, suggestions and knowledge in this matter.

Thanks again, John.

ANSWER: Hi John -

The airbag in your steering wheel is a kit. You should be able to get it at a dealer or on line. Normally has a couple connections and mounted with 2 torx screws. When installing an ar bag, always disconnect the battery.

Yes, transmission oil is needed to shift. The impact probably did damage to your radiator, and because the transmission lines go to the radiator to cool, you are losing both coolant and transmission oil. Replacing the radiator should remedy this, however I am hoping that the impact did not damage the mounting frame for the radiator, or you will have a difficult time replacing it cause the mounting holes will not line up.

Hope this helps -

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

QUESTION: Thanks for the information Calvin. Would the new airbag get set off when I reconnect the battery? How is the airbag set off? Is it set off by a g-force sensor in the airbag control module or by what other means? I would just like to ensure that it won't go off when I reconnect the battery. I've been told so many different things such as there is a sensor in the steering column so I would need to replace that too. However, I saw that as trying to get more money out of me. Also I think you might be correct about the frame. It looks like the driver side is pushed up slightly. Do you perhaps know any good frame shops in the Knoxville, TN area? Sorry for the overload on questions.

Thanks again, John.

Hi John -

The air bag is activated by a crash sensor, located in the lower part of the steering column. I will deploy if the vehicle hit a solid wall or barrier at 10 - 15 MPH, or another vehicle at least 25MPH.

Normally with smaller impacts where the sensor does not get damaged, it will reset itself and you can just replace the air bag. There is also a device that monitors the air bag sensor if the sensor is not working properly, and will illuminate your air bag light if the sensor is not functioning properly. So, if connecting the battery, it should not deploy even if the sensor is defective.

Sorry, been to Tennessee, but not long enough to know any shops, but any auto body shop can assist you with straightening the frame.

Hope this helps -

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Calvin Iwashita


All general car repairs for all models of vehicles, except technicals (overhauls) on A/C systems and transmissions.


16 years as a car mechanic from 1974 to 1990, and still repair cars on the side.


High School and college graduate

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