How To Reset the SRS (Airbag) Light On Your 1996-1998 Honda Civic
Standard disclaimer: Don't do anything stupid. Improper handling of the airbag wiring, circuitry, etc., can cause unexpected deployment of the airbag, leading to property damage, bodily injury, or death. Use caution when working with or around the airbag systems. Modification or careless handling of the airbag systems could damage them, causing them to fail to (or improperly) deploy. If you aren't sure of what you're doing, and can't do it safely, stop here.
I had to do this to my 1997 Honda Civic LX after a dead battery caused an SRS fault. The SRS light sticks on and it won't pass Virginia state safety inspection. The dealership wanted more than eighty dollars to fix it. It took me about two minutes to reset it myself once I learned how. Note that this process may work with similar cars (other Hondas, Accuras, etc.), though the connector locations and wire colors may be different. Beware. I have reports of this working for the 2001 Civic, 1995 Integra GSR, 2000 Integra GS-R, 1997 Civic EX, 1997 Civic hatchback, and 1995 Civic. If it works for you, please write in so I can list your car and help others.
First of all, be safe. Honda says that you can help prevent accidental deployment of the airbag by turning the ignition switch off, disconnecting the negative battery cable, and waiting three minutes before disconnecting any SRS connectors. Make sure you do this.
Locate the SRS control unit by removing the plastic shroud under the driver's side dashboard (i.e. the panel that holds the fusebox cover). In a 97 Civic LX, it has only three screws: two on the left by the driver's side door and one on the right up near the radio. The SRS control unit is the thing under the dash, right above the fusebox, with several yellow wiring harnesses running into it. (Yellow wires and wraps are, by the way, Honda's way of designating SRS wires so that you can be careful around them.)
Erasing the SRS Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) Memory
- Locate the Memory Erase Signal (MES) connector on the SRS control unit. The big yellow wiring harness that runs to the SRS unit splits into three smaller bundles of wire. One two-wire bundle goes to the far left front of the SRS unit, one three-wire bundle runs to the top center of the SRS unit (to another wiring harness, actually), and the last two-wire bundle runs to the far right of the SRS unit. This last bundle on the right is the MES connector (the one in which you are interested). It should be two gray or green wires wrapped in bright yellow bundling.
- Remove the MES connector from the connector block. It has a small tab on the top of the connector which needs to be pressed down (into the connector body) before it will unplug from the SRS unit. Do not pull on the wires, but rather pull on the connector body to unplug it. Look down into the end of the MES connector (the part attached to the wires, not the plug part under the dash) and notice the two metal pins in there.
- Bend up a wire jumper (a paper clip would probably work) so that the two wire ends will stick down into the MES connector and fit into the metal contacts there. This jumper is your makeshift SCS Service Connector.
- If you previously disconnected the battery, reconnect it now.
- Insert the jumper into the MES connector.
- Turn the ignition to the "on" position. Watch the SRS light. It should turn on just like normal.
- When the SRS light goes off, pull the jumper out (you have 4 seconds to do this after the light goes off).
- When the SRS light goes back on, re-insert the jumper (you have 4 seconds to do this after the light goes back on).
- When the SRS light goes off again, remove the jumper again (you guessed it: you have 4 seconds in which to do this).
- A few seconds should pass and you will see the SRS light blink fast twice, indicating the DTC memory has been cleared.
- If you don't get the two-blink, go back to step 4 and try again.
If you need any help with this, feel free to email me and ask questions.