97 Grand Voyager Air Bag light

My 97 Grand Voyagers air bag light comes on intermittently. Last week I took it to the dealer for the clockspring recall. On the way to the
dealer, the light came on several different times for different durations. Every time I drive it, the light comes on. Sometimes as soon as it is started, sometimes 25 minutes after it is driven. The tech spent about 10 minutes on it only checking for air bag DTC's and found none. The light must not have been on at the time. Do air bag problems set a hard code or a soft code? I also have noticed that the horn and cruise control do work when the air bag light is on. What could be the problem?
Brian
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Clockspring. You indicate you had it in to the dealer recently. I'd recommend you take it back and have them fix what they apparently broke.
Bob

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Brian C. wrote:

The clockspring. If you took in in for the recall, didn't they replace it?
Matt
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Thank you all for your replies. I left out of my original post that the dealer did not fix anything. They spent 10 minutes trying to pull a code from the air bag controller and did not find one. They said nothing was wrong with the clockspring because there were no codes. I told them that I would drive the van around until the light came on and then bring it back. The air bag light did not come on until I got home. Does the problem with the clockspring set a hard code that stays in the controller until removed with a scanner or a soft code that is only present when the air bag light is on?
Thanks all, Brian
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Brian C. wrote:

Last I knew, a recall didn't require that a code be set or that the item under recall even be bad at the moment. The recall applies to something that may be bad or may go bad in the future. I've had a recall on my van for a gasket or something on the fuel pump/sending unit assembly, but it didn't leak at the time of the recall. I also had a recall on the fuel rails, but, again, they were just fine at the time of the recall. If your dealer didn't satisfy a recall simply because a code wasn't set, then I think you need a competent dealer.
Matt
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At least some or part of them are situational. I was just writing here last week about the 2nd-generation Caravan recall for the airbag circuit, and how they would also replace the rear wiper motor if it was found to be defective at the time recall service was performed.
--Geoff
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With this recall, Chrysler will replace the clockspring in all covered vehicles under 70000 miles. In those vehicles over 70000, they will only replace the clockspring if it has malfunctioned. My van has 166000 miles and they did not replace the clockspring because they could not find a code and therefore determined that it was not broken. Is there another test they should have done? Does the recall require a visual inspection that I should insist on and that I won't be charged a diagnostic and shop materials fee for?
Thanks, Brian
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I just re-read the recall and they are right about what it actually says - <70000 miles will be replaced regardless, failed or not. >70000 miles will only be replaced if it has actually failed. Indicated by airbag light not going out after a few seconds after starting. If it fails at any time >70000 miles, it will be replaced free of charge.
Looks like you will need to wait until the light is on, stays on, and then take it in. Basically the dealer you went to is following the letter of the law, not the intent, and is not taking your word of its intermittent operation and impending failure.

replace it?

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And in the meantime if you get into a crash and the bag don't deploy, well tough cookies.

No, what the dealer is doing is profiteering. The letter of the law here isn't the letter, because it's an unverifyable law. This is one recall that Chrysler cannot test the returned clocksprings to see if they were still good because the simple jarring that they get from being shipped back could "heal" a broken one. And the dealer service manager, and the dealer mechanic have by now seen enough of these failures that they all know perfectly well that every single one of these clocksprings are all going to fail eventually.
So, you have this grey area. If the dealer were to replace it under warranty even if they are required to send the old clockspring back (which I don't think they are) it's impossible to verify that it was 'working' when replaced. And Chrysler knows perfectly well the failure is endemic to these so if they get a warranty claim on one from the dealer they aren't going to dispute it. In short, the dealer knows it's bad, also knows that even if it's not bad now it's going to fail, also knows that Chrysler cannot verify that one of these returned shouldn't have been replaced because it was "good", and also knows that Chrysler cannot even try "mystery shopping" him to see if the dealership is replacing them unnecessairly because all the service manager has to do is borrow the van for a 5 minute test drive and state that he saw the light come on and go off, and it cannot be disputed if they open it and clockspring is one of the old types, and if it's a new type - well sorry, clockspring is good, must be bad diagnosis.
No, what is going on is the dealership has figured out that since these are intermittent, they can make good money off repeated diagnostic fees by sending the poor driver back and claiming it's not broken. All they have to do is when they get an intermittent in, just park the vehicle, turn it off then turn it on and half the time the light won't light, whereupon they can feed the owner a line of crap and collect their $80 fee for doing nothing.
While these games might be excusable for something unimportant like an ashtray light, it's inexcusable when someone could be killed by an airbag not deploying.
Ted
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All in agreement here - your symptoms are exactly typical of the clockspring. If you wait long enough the cruise and horn will also go intermittent, and all will eventually quit completely. But then again, the recall is for safety reasons - if the recall has not already been done on your van, they should not question your symptoms, just insist they replace it.

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The clockspring problem is often intermittent. If it breaks, it doesn't necessarily mean it's completely broken. If you think of the filament of a light bulb you've probably seen the filament break, but as it flops around, it can make contact with the other side and make a connection and stay there until it's bumped.
I don't believe air bag problems set any fault codes. But maybe I'm wrong....

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Same thing happened to me on my '97 T&C. The dealer had replaced the clockspring, and now the horn and cruise worked, but the airbag light was lit. Fixed it yesterday. There was a loose connector. Take off the plastic clamshell surrounding the steering column (3 phillips screws from below) That will reveal the errant connector. It is the outermost one. Mine was dangling. Guess the Tech didn't quite get it snapped in all the way. Plugged it in. Problem fixed.
Bill

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