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Discussion Starter #1
Besides my clutch giving me endless issues the rest of the car has been pretty much flawless.
I am unable to access my Bentley Manual on the computer right now.
Any ideas?

1998 GLS V6 5sp FWD
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Address 15: Airbags Labels: 1J0-909-60x-VW3.lbl
Part No: 1J0 909 607 B
Component: AIRBAG VW3 S V03
Coding: 00066
Shop #: WSC 05311
VCID: 2C57FEBFDC1A2A7E17F-4B00

2 Faults Found:
01217 - Side Airbag Igniter; Driver Side (N199)
32-10 - Resistance Too High - Intermittent
01218 - Side Airbag Igniter; Passenger Side (N200)
32-10 - Resistance Too High - Intermittent
 

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Did you unplug any yellow connectors under the front seats? Even if you did it only for a short time, if the airbag module sees those circuits go open, it logs codes like that. It doesn't know you did it on purpose, it only knows those two airbags went off-line electrically.
 

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You can use VCDS to check the values for those igniters using measuring blocks. See if any says "incorrect" or "fault" or similar, and try to wiggle the wires under the seat. Or you can just unplug the igniters and clean with contact cleaner and re-insert. Then clear the codes and see (I hope not) if they come back.
The connectors are the yellow ones under each front seat like Steve said.
 

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Andreas, sorry for posting in your thread, but I have a related question.
Which exactly is the "igniter"?
I have a same igniter fault for the passenger side (N200)- car came with some bad added wiring and resistor spliced in. Some while back when getting the interior back together I cleaned and greased all the connectors and tried to erase the code, but it came right back on. Is the igniter something buried in the seat backrest?
Thanks in advance.
 

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so if cleaning the connectors doesn't help, then it's probably the igniter itself that went bad. How hard are these things to be replaced?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
chefro,
As scotts13 said, it is part of the airbag device.
The igniter is the device that gets the airbag to deploy by igniting a small charge of explosive matter.

These things have to be and have been ultra reliable. Remember these are in our cars to save lives.
I am not expert on all things auto, but I have never heard of an igniter going bad.

In all of my experience with this kind of stuff, airbag issues are almost always caused by electrical connections that get compromised.
My Mercury Mystique was notorious for airbag faults. Every time it was the ground connection.

Did you unplug any yellow connectors under the front seats? Even if you did it only for a short time, if the airbag module sees those circuits go open, it logs codes like that. It doesn't know you did it on purpose, it only knows those two airbags went off-line electrically.
Yes, I had the seats out of the car a few weeks ago when I was working on the clutch master cylinder.
Passenger seat was out cause I was checking the seat heater.
Nothing else has changed.
But the codes came on within the last few days.

I found a post here in this forum late last night from many years ago (at least 10) that said the problem is most likely dirty connecters under the seat.
By the way, the connectors for the airbags in the front seats are the little yellow ones. 1 per seat.

When I get the interior back together I'll clean the connectors with some LPS and see what that does.
I was surprised when the codes popped up, I had that familiar thought that most of us know all to well, now what the hell is wrong?
At this point in time I'm having small electrical issues pop up. It's getting annoying.
 

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so if cleaning the connectors doesn't help, then it's probably the igniter itself that went bad. How hard are these things to be replaced?
The side airbags aren't particularly hard to replace, though you do absolutely have to follow proper procedure - people have been badly injured when they went off prematurely. Question is sourcing. New, from the dealer, they're expensive. Used... well, used is problematic. It's something that's potentially dangerous and must work perfectly the first time in a life-or-death situation. A lot of people here have installed salvage ones, but how trusted is your source? There have been reports of completely inactive counterfeit airbags sold.

On the plus side, I somehow doubt both side airbags failed at the same time. Seems more of a wiring problem or oxidized connectors. Just be sure the battery is disconnected any time you touch them or the wiring, and don't have anyone in the car when you reconnect it.
 

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Which exactly is the "igniter"?
The igniter is the part of the airbag electrically wired to the air bag control module. The control module sends electric power up that pair of wires to set off the igniter and deploy the airbag. As a safety feature, the control module is always watching the continuity and resistance of those circuits. If a circuit goes open or the resistance changes (bad connection, cut wire, disconnection) the control module detects it and warns you with a dash light. The igniters have a set amount of resistance the control module expects to see. If the resistance of one of those circuits goes too far outside of normal, you get a code and warning light. People that replace the factory (airbag equipped) seats with some other type of seat need to fool the airbag module into thinking the airbag is still present. They do this by placing a dummy-load (resister) across the pair of wires that would have connected to the airbag. With that in place, the control module sees the continuity and resistance it expects so it doesn't throw codes or light up warning lights.
 

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roger that, guys. thanks a lot.
Reading again I noticed that Andreas' fault says "resistance to high". I have actually the opposite, "resistance too low". I guess I should remove that resistor and go from there.
 

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chefro,
These things have to be and have been ultra reliable. Remember these are in our cars to save lives.
I am not expert on all things auto, but I have never heard of an igniter going bad.

In all of my experience with this kind of stuff, airbag issues are almost always caused by electrical connections that get compromised.
My Mercury Mystique was notorious for airbag faults. Every time it was the ground connection.
Off topic on all this -- I also thought airbag systems were extremely well tested and foolproof, until I read about the recently revealed Honda/Takata fiasco with poor manufacturing practices and quality control of the igniter showing up years later as horrific accidents, and most disturbingly, not a whole lot of reliable insight as to which vehicles might have this defect.
 

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I didn't see if you mentioned whether the airbag indicator came on. I ask because mine came on a while back after mucking about with my aftermarket stereo and the wiring behind the center console. The control unit for the airbags is located in the center console behind the panel on top of the transmission hump. I suspect that I somehow dislodged the main connector or disturbed it somehow and caused the fault indicator to come on. I found out that the only way to clear the fault was using a VAG-COM so I downloaded the free VCDS software and picked up a cable on ebay for about $15. I was able to clear the fault and it has never returned. You might try doing that and see if the fault goes away. If there's really a problem then the fault will likely return. The best case scenario is that there's not really a problem. Worst case is that you'll have to fix it anyway, but at least you'll know for sure.
 

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roger that, guys. thanks a lot.
Reading again I noticed that Andreas' fault says "resistance to high". I have actually the opposite, "resistance too low". I guess I should remove that resistor and go from there.
chefro, I sort of skipped over the point where you said "resistor" before. Do you in fact have an airbag in place? Someone added a resistor of some sort? How is it wired into the airbag circuit? You're making it sound like the previous owner knew the airbag was bad and tried to trick the system into turning the light off.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Reviving an old post.

2 Faults Found:
01217 - Side Airbag Igniter; Driver Side (N199)
32-10 - Resistance Too High - Intermittent
01218 - Side Airbag Igniter; Passenger Side (N200)
32-10 - Resistance Too High - Intermittent

I've been round and round on this annoying airbag fault light for years now. I'm half tempted to put a little square piece of black electrical tape over the fault light because I'm so tired of it glaring at me.

The few that are still around that may know my history with this car...
Car sat for a number of years, during this time I removed the whole interior except the dash. Afterwards I had the seats professionally cleaned. They then sat in sealed bags until I resurrected the car again 2013.
Before the car interior was removed the airbag light and the fault never occurred.

So on my way home from work last night, I had a Homer Simpson moment, DOH!
When the cleaning service cleaned my seats they steamed cleaned the seats and injected a mold killer/resistant agent into the seat foam.
Is it quite possible they damaged the side airbag wiring in the side of the seat back rest?
Is there a way to check the circuit in the seat(s) WITHOUT setting off the airbags?

I'm thinking this is the only thing it can be, I've exhausted every other possibility over the recent years past.
 

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I'm not sure of how to do this safely with regards to disabling the airbags from accidentally firing, but if you could use DeOxit electrical cleaner on all the accessible connectors, that stuff can work wonders. It permanently fixed my sunroof cursed with the random opening/closing issue - a common failure on the B5's because of degradation of contacts on the rotational connector. Just an idea.
 

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Discussion Starter #17

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Discussion Starter #18
I guess if were REALLY motivated, I could swap a seat from one of my other cars and try that.
Hmm...
 

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You'll have to peel back the seat cover and get to the airbag itself. The wiring does not go through the foam though. It runs along the seat frame. Any pro worth their salt wouldn't go anywhere near an airbag except on the surface.

I've swapped airbags a few times from seat to seat. It's not scary. Just don't use any power tools and unplug it from the airbag itself to test shorts to ground, continuity, and whatnot. If the wiring is good from origination point to the airbag, then it's probably a bad airbag. The bad thing is, the code is for an intermittent issue.

 

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Discussion Starter #20
You'll have to peel back the seat cover and get to the airbag itself. The wiring does not go through the foam though. It runs along the seat frame. Any pro worth their salt wouldn't go anywhere near an airbag except on the surface.

I've swapped airbags a few times from seat to seat. It's not scary. Just don't use any power tools and unplug it from the airbag itself to test shorts to ground, continuity, and whatnot. If the wiring is good from origination point to the airbag, then it's probably a bad airbag.

Cool, this is exactly what I was looking for.


The bad thing is, the code is for an intermittent issue.
I see that too. I've cleared the code several times, It comes back on within seconds every time.
And once it's on, it stays on.

I get it that's an intermittent code, my thinking though is that some connection is compromised horribly, hence the almost instantaneously return of the airbag fault light, no flashing ever, just on, continuously.

Ross-Tech Wiki says:
Check Measuring Value Blocks (MVB)
I'll have to find my VCDS and check that out!
 
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