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Discussion Starter #1
I was leaving for work this morning and I was about a block down the street and my passenger airbag deployed.

I got in the van started up fine like always, pulled out of the drive and proceeded down the street. Then I began to smell a burning smell. Seem to be coming from the engine bay I thought. I had my driver side window down cause for once it seemed cool out. I thought maybe it was something from outside.

So I am sitting there trying to figure out what the smell is and I glance down at the dash and notice my check engine like blinking. Next I notice the smell getting stronger and think "oh **** my engine!" then "BOOM!!" the passenger airbag deploys. Needless to say I was startled and pulled to the side and just sat there stunned for a sec. I shut the car off and got out because I didn't know if the steering wheel was about to do the same. the blast F'd up my visor and blew off my rear view mirror.

Has this happened to anyone? My plan is to remove the driver airbag and take the van to my local parts shop to see what code is flashing.
 

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What year, mileage? I would take it to a dealer and also call Honda As this is a serious safety problem unless there have been modifications to the system.
 

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Melted wiring harness???

What ever it is that is scary. I am thinking if your airbag randomly goes off like that it would not save you in an accident but create one as it disorients you. Good thing you were still on a side street. You probably could just disconnect the wire to the drivers airbag instead of removing it.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I hadn't had a chance to really look at it. I drove the other car to work. When I get home I will be able to inspect it further.
 

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I hadn't had a chance to really look at it. I drove the other car to work. When I get home I will be able to inspect it further.
I work at a Honda dealer. I would call the Honda customer service number in the owners manual, before going to the dealer. As Honda, not the dealer, will have to decide what to do. This may save you an unnecessary trip to the dealer. Honda can then direct you to the dealer after you open up a complaint about the vehicle. I could not find any bulletins pertaining to your issue. If you are not the original owner, there may have been someone in there doing repairs, in the past. Steve
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I work at a Honda dealer. I would call the Honda customer service number in the owners manual, before going to the dealer. As Honda, not the dealer, will have to decide what to do. This may save you an unnecessary trip to the dealer. Honda can then direct you to the dealer after you open up a complaint about the vehicle. I could not find any bulletins pertaining to your issue. If you are not the original owner, there may have been someone in there doing repairs, in the past. Steve
I am the second owner. It had 58K on it when I bought 2 years ago. About 3 months ago the SRS light came on and I thought it was due to a low bat and the SRS sys was unable to run it's check when the ignition is engaged. I eventually got a new batt but the light was still on. I figured it just needed to be reset. Still I never expected my bag to blow like that. I am just glad my Wife or 12 year old son was not with me.
 

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If your SRS light was on then that means it was detecting some form of fault in the system. The light being on also means that the airbags are usually deactivated. Even though there was a fault I would certainly never expect an airbag to deploy on its own. I can't imagine how scary that must have been.
 

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Wow. I'm glad you weren't hurt and this didn't cause an accident. I think there are probably 3 possible causes for something like this:

1) The SRS module (computer) sends an errant fire signal to the airbag.
2) Voltage is unintentionally introduced into the wiring harness going to the airbag igniter. (A short, melted wire, etc.)
3) The igniter itself fires "on its own."

Given the burning smell and the check engine light just before this happened, I would vote for #2 above. I bet you had a short in your under-dash wiring, this melted the insulation on the yellow SRS harness, and voltage was introduced into the wire running to the passenger's airbag igniter.

I think #1 and #3 above are more scary scenarios, but how likely? Even a "deactivated" SRS module is hard-wired to the airbag igniter. Theoretically a short-circuit on the circuit board of the SRS module could cause voltage to be sent to the trigger circuit. The right (wrong) combination of shorts could override the fail-safe mechanisms in the SRS module and cause the airbags to fire. This seems really unlikely to me, but on the other hand I have seen shorts on personal computer motherboards that were caused by a build-up of dust, dirt, moisture and misc crud. As for the igniter itself, I supposed some sort of electrostatic discharge could cause it to fire, but there must be protections designed into the igniter to prevent that from happening.

I wonder what the life-span of a modern airbag system is? How many years (decades) before the system becomes unreliable and what are the failure modes as the system ages?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I wonder what the life-span of a modern airbag system is? How many years (decades) before the system becomes unreliable and what are the failure modes as the system ages?
Thanks daneli1, Yes luckily no one was hurt. I too wonder how long these systems will last. And I did assume the system was "dead" because the SRS light was on. We'll see what the inspections from the Honda Rep produces but I tend to agree with your diagnosis.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
****UPDATE****

Honda America sent a rep to look at the van. They had a tech a the dealer look at it as well. The conclusion is no conclusion but Honda of America is willing to cover 2/3 of the cost to repair it. Actual cost could be in the 3k and up range but offered to repair it for $1026.00. That includes the SRS computer, The bag, the Dash and the visor + labor.

I guess that is better than nothing. I am glad they offered to pay some of it. I will go ahead and get it repaired but not sure what to do after that. I can't really afford it but I need the transportation. Could be worse though so I am grateful.
 

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wth!?!? they are only covering a little of the cost??? i could do that myself for about $300 or less. can you just take the cash??? :)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
They said the total cost of parts and repair was est at about $3k. I just looked up some of the parts over at Majestic and just for the Bag, Visor and SRS unit the cost comes to $1400.00 est. for NEW parts. I think it's a ok deal seeing that the parts will be new and installed by the dealer. SureI could go the $300 route but how do I know it won't happen again.
 

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So, did the SRS computer burn up or did they find any harnesses that over heated to explain the smoke/smell?
 
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