Model: Renault Espace 2.0 16V RT-X (X/2000)
Problem: Airbag warning light on engine start followed by the word SERVICE
There seems to be a common problem with the Espace in that the airbag warning light comes on when you switch on the engine, followed by the word SERVICE. The owners handbook seems to suggest that somewhere in the safety system there is a problem and that you should visit the Renault dealer to diagnose it. Ofcourse these days you visit Google first, and so after a few hours spend looking for information I came to the conclusion that it must suffer from a dodgy connection or connector underneath the driver or passenger seat. Well, either that or it would need a new airbag computer which would set you back at least £200. Since the first option is easy enough to explore, I went to Halfords, picked up a set of Torx keys and got to work.
Access to the wires and connecters is extremely limited with the seats in place, so we are better off removing them with the runners and make it ourselves easy.
Slide the seats all the way backwards to reveal the two front Torx screws (T40) and undo both screws.
Once done, carefully slide the seats all the way forward to reveal the three Torx (T40) screws at the back. Undo them and place the screws near the others as we don't want to lose them.
Now gently tilt the seats backwards, making sure you do not unplug any of the wires and connectors. If you have the back seats in, you may want to remove them to give yourself a bit more space for the front seats.
Here comes the scientific part... Just wiggle a bit at each connector, making sure they are connected and follow each cable making sure there aren't any shorts of broken/loose ones. At no point I had to unplug anything, and I strongly advice you to do the same. I'm not sure if airbags can spontaneously deploy when you disconnect the connectors, nor do I know if the seatbelt tensioners (down the side of the seat) will tension. Consider yourself warned!
If you want to be safe instead of sorry, you may want to disconnect the battery and leave the vehicle parked for 30 minutes before you even consider unscrewing anything. I couldn't be asked as I'm more scared of the battery than I am of the airbags... go figure
If you pay close attention, you can see that the connectors underneath the passenger seat are almost (but not quite) mirrored with the drivers seat. For some reason, one of the connectors on the passenger seat isn't connected to anything, so I just shrugged my shoulders and figured that it is supposed to be like that.
Now at this point I thought it would be a good idea to have a look at the radio underneath the drivers seat and see what sort of options we have if we want to add some gadgets to the Espace.
Lift the carpets to reveal the plastic cover and just two Torx (T20) screws holding it in place.
There could be more screws present a bit further back, but as I couldn't remove the seats completely, I didn't have access to those. Instead I just lifted the plastic cover up, making sure not to break things. As with all things, gently does it.
Hmm, not much I can do with this it seems. Just the cassette plug available, and lots of searching on Google revealed that the only thing you can plug into it is... a cassette player. Who uses these things anyway?
A quick snap of the identification label so I can find out on exact specifications later.
Can you guess what happened next? When I titled the passenger seat it revealed the same plastic cover as underneath the drivers seat, so naturally I looked into that a bit more as well. The thing that caught my eye was this strange looking connector.
Let's have a closer look... oh, that could well be the OBD-II connector which the Renault dealer would use to diagnose any faults. I can see why they charge an arm and a leg just to hook up the computer as they need to remove the seat first!
So while we are at it, let's re-route that connector in the underseat storage cubbie. It is empty after all. The cubbie plastics are held in place by two plastic push pin screws.
Remove them both by pulling them out. No great force is involved.
Pulling the plastic cover about a bit revealed that down the side of it enough space is left to route the cable through to inside the cubbie.
Put the pins back in and admire your work
All that is left now is to switch on the ignition and stand clear of the doors
It works!!! No more nasty fault message, but a clean bill of health. Congratulations
Put everything together again (just read this story backwards for the instructions) and make sure you do plenty of testing that you haven't undone your work. If all goes well you will have lost 2 liters of sweat, but saved yourself £200 on a repair bill.
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