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Discussion Starter #1
Howdy y'all,

I have a 2008 Nissan Altima, and I love it. Unfortunately I have the airbag light flashing nonstop every time I drive it. I also noticed that the passenger airbag off light is constantly on. Hmmm....this made me think "Ok, the occupancy sensor is malfunctioning. I will take it to a NISSAN CERTIFIED DEALER and they will set me straight.

So, after an 120 buck all around inspection (wtf is this standard for every place? I thought places would at least LOOK and see if they can find the problem for free. But I digress...) they notified me that indeed the occupancy sensor is bad, and they would have to replace the ENTIRE seat. This would take them 3 hours to do, plus all the parts would cost > $2,000. HOLY GUACAMOLE!

I am definitely not paying that much. I graduated with an Electrical Engineering Technology degree and I am very hands on. But, I haven't worked on cars much. Do you think I would be able to take on the task of fixing my car?

I am thinking that there's GOT TO be a way to just totally bypass this sensor. From my understanding, the sensor can distinguish if there is a person or something static (like a bag of groceries). If its not a person, the airbag will be disengaged. I think this seems like a dumb feature anyways. Can't there be a way that I can bypass this sensor so that it will always just think there is a person and the airbag will always deploy? Is it as simple as shorting out 2 pins somewhere?

Is there an easy way to access the sensor? Or is it buried in the seat and the only way to reach it is to gut my seat open? I'm hoping you Nissan nerds can help me out!!! I want to be able to save some money and learn something while I'm at it!

Thanks,

Popnfrsh
 

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2010 2.5 SL
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687 Posts
SNIP

I have not had any reason to take apart an Altima seat, but I am in the process of installing heated seats in my g/f's Corolla. It's not fun, but it is perfectly doable.

Spend some annoying time with the correct downloads to see what else you might need (or to convince you to not do this).

Nissan Altima Factory Service Manuals
 

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09 Altima 3.5SE 6MT Sedan
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6,182 Posts
Defeating air bag systems is illegal and dangerous. Get a used seat and be done with it.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
How is it defeating the air bag system if I want to force the airbag to always deploy in a crash? Doesn't the occupancy sensor "defeat" the airbag system when groceries are placed in the front seat? Granted, if I mess up the wiring and I THINK I did it properly, yeah I can see the problem.

Anyways, I'm not past getting a new seat. Not having to deal with opening up the existing seat and muck with the wiring sounds appealing. You mentioned a used seat...where would be the best place to buy one of these? I'm guessing a "pick a part" place? Ebay? Do they not sell new ones? I tried to do some googling, and all I really could find were 08 nissan altima seat covers and no actual seats. Do you guys know of where I can get one?

Also, would it be replacing the ENTIRE seat, or just the cushion that you sit on? The dealership said this installation would take +3 hrs to do and thats why it was so expensive. Has anyone done this, and is it a long and arduous task?

Thanks,
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hmmmm....I might be getting somewhere with this.

So, this whole time, I have been wondering how the HELL this occupancy sensor could start malfunctioning. One theory I had is how I listen to music in my car.

I always use my phone to play music in the car. I either put my phone in the cupholders, OR, If I am using all my cupholders, I shove my phone in the passenger seat where the horizontal and vertical seat cushions meet each other. It is a great place to put the phone because if you shove it in there good, it won't move around on you when driving thru corners.

This had me wondering if by shoving the phone in the seat cushions I somehow broke the OCS system. While looking thru the factory manuals I came across this picture of the occupancy sensor inside of the seat.


The part highlighted in red looks like some type of connector that connects to the sensor. I am starting to believe that all the repetitive shovings has made this connector come loose. This is pretty much the exact spot where I shove my phone!

Does anyone know of a clever way I can try and connect this connector back into position without ripping apart the seat? OR, if I do have to open up the seat, does anyone know the best way to perform "surgery" on it so after I'm done mucking around my seat still looks rather normal?

Thanks,
 

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I doubt that wedging an object between the seat cushions could hurt it. Lots of people do that, and they'd need to design the seat to be rugged enough to withstand that.

From the description of the lights, it might be either
(1) just a connector unplugged under the seat, or
(2) a problem with the side-impact bag in the seat.
I haven't looked up to see what the difference would be between a solid airbag light and a blinking one. My intuition says the blinking light is more likely to be either an unplugged connector, or some inability for the parts of the airbag system to communicate with each other. Part of the occupancy sensor is a little computer unit under the seat, which AFAIK, is separate from the actual weight sensor in the cushion.

Note that the passenger airbag has two different levels of force that it can deploy with, for either an adult or child. One of the things the occupancy sensor does is decide that, based on weight.
 

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09 Altima 3.5SE 6MT Sedan
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6,182 Posts
Here's what the mat looks like, it's sandwiched under the seat heater element.

 

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Hey! I believe I'm having the same issue as Popnfrsh24 and was wondering what your solution was. 2008 Altima, passenger airbag OFF light is always lit. Dealer said it would be $2k to fix. Did you end up finding a used seat or seat cushion?

-smits
 

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Somebody online sells a module that bypasses the seat sensor, for like $80. Saw it a good while back, don't ask where. You can search as well as I can.

The sensor does indeed set the airbag to go off at more than one force, the bag unit is actually two, one goes off or both.
 
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