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Old 10-04-2022, 04:22 PM   #1
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Airbag Light - Passenger Seat Belt Pretensioner

I have a 2003 E350 EB. We are the third owners -- original owner had it converted to 4x4 (Quigley) and interior done by Sportsmobile.

Anyway, we recently had a shop redo the interior, including replacing the factory seats with Scheel-mann seats.

When we got the van back for a trial adventure, one of the items on the punch-list to fix was the airbag light, which was staying on. Well, the shop went out of business and isn't returning calls/emails. So, I'm trying to work through the list myself.

Best I can tell from my research is that the light may be on because the passenger seat belt pretensioner is not plugged in (see image). Yet, I don't see where I'd plug this yellow connector into. I can't find the other side of the connector coming from anywhere in the van. Note, there is a wire coming up from the van floor that is plugged into two white connectors on the seat, but I'm guessing this is for the heated seats.

I also noticed in comparing to the driver's side, that the driver's side has different wiring for the pretensioner. There are two lines coming from the driver's side - both plugged in, and neither with the same yellow connector that the passenger side has.

So, questions:
a) does the hypothesis that the airbag light is on because the passenger pretensioner isn't plugged in, seem right to anyone familiar with the airbag / seatbelt system?
b) where should the plug form the airbag controller for the passenger side pretensioner be coming from? where should I look for it?

Appreciate any all advice/guidance/clues.
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passenger - yellow.jpg   driver.jpg  
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Old 10-04-2022, 06:31 PM   #2
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Wish I could help - my van is an 2002 E350 - and Ford charged me over $600 to fix my passenger tensioner passenger seat !! What an exorbitant out of this world price !

Good luck !
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Old 10-04-2022, 06:46 PM   #3
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Updated - mismatch connectors

Continued to dig and found a connector tucked away in the passenger stair step area. It matches the type of connector that's plugged into the pretensioner on the driver's side.

I'm now thinking the shop tossed the old seats WITH the seat belt tensioners, ordered new ones and perhaps got the wrong one (with the wrong connector) on the passenger side, so just buried the connector.

Will search for a replacement passenger tensioner with the correct connector.
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Old 10-04-2022, 08:24 PM   #4
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Instead of buying a whole new pretensioner, could you just cut off both connectors and replace with a bullet connector? That seems like the easiest/cheapest option.

This is what the blingmyrig instructions recommend doing when installing their swivel seats on the newer model vans where the connectors are not easy to disassemble.
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Old 10-05-2022, 04:39 AM   #5
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Yeah, I was wondering the same.
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Old 10-05-2022, 08:10 AM   #6
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Be Advised!

Quote:
Originally Posted by motovan_mn View Post
Instead of buying a whole new pretensioner, could you just cut off both connectors and replace with a bullet connector? That seems like the easiest/cheapest option.

This is what the blingmyrig instructions recommend doing when installing their swivel seats on the newer model vans where the connectors are not easy to disassemble.

One needs to be VERY VERY careful fiddling with the SRS devices including ALL associated wiring!!!! Ford has a tendency to change wiring circuits to basically limit parts compatibility which is directly related to their profits. This could very well lead to an accidental triggering of the SRS system.

FWIW the instrument cluster warning lamp is indeed illuminated because that pre-tensioner under discussion here. The OBD-II system believes it has failed (no continuity) and does it job by alerting the owner/driver.

At bare minimum you would NEED to disconnect the chassis power battery, wait at least 15 minutes before cutting the SRS wiring. Even then the wrong wire in the wrong place has a risk of activating the entire SRS including the steering wheel air bag.

For me the only way to go about this safely is find the proper seat belt pre-tensioner, pay the cost so installing it doesn't become a potential safety risk. Keep in mind air bags deploy at over 100 MPH with considerable force and should be respected as you would a load gun.
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Old 10-05-2022, 10:33 AM   #7
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I Agree with JWA be veryyyyy careful with air bag systems. Besides possible injury the cost of the components if you accidentally set it off is crazy.
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Old 10-05-2022, 03:46 PM   #8
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Update

I did consider just cutting the connectors and butt joining the wires. I had two concerns: i) not being sure which wire goes to which, ii) there being some circuitry/resistance in the connector that might result in either unintended signal deploying the airbags OR the airbags not deploying as expected in an actual crash.

I did go to a local pick-n-pull. I couldn't find a pretensioner with the same connector that's part of the van's wiring harness. I did find a Ford van whose wiring harness had the same connector as the pretensioner currently installed. So, I snipped that, paid the $5 and brought it home -- just in case.

My preference, as others advised here, is to find a pretensioner with the proper connector for my existing wiring in the van. If I can't, then I'll consider swapping out the van's connector for the one I found in the pick-n-pull that matches the installed pretensioner's connector.


Thanks for the input and advice.
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Old 10-06-2022, 04:42 AM   #9
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A bit info for this:
Make sure the seat belt tab actually latches/matches the receiving latch on the pre-tensioner. Not all years are the same/compatible. Replacement pre-tensioner assemblies are available on ebay, etc. - make sure the supplier is reputable.

Test your pre-tensioner for proper resistance using an ohm meter. Specifications can be found online.

The white round connector is the 2003 and should be connected to your chassis harness running across the van just aft of the front seats. The yellow connector is the one from the pretensioner and is around 2005 and up. Following JWA recommendations re powering down and waiting is the safest approach to dealing w other wires. The two plastic connectors can be cut off and bullet connectors used to make the connections.

If your light is still on after doing this and your pretensioner has passed it's continuity check, then you are into a deeper dive into the SRS system. The number of ABS light flashes and the sequence are guides to failure points. At this point, I highly recommend getting factory manual guidance for troubleshooting where the problem lies.

Installation of the Scheel Mann seats should have utilized the existing seats pre-tensioners and the adapter plates/parts Expovans makes for SM. Properly installed the SM's are an easy swap.

Bonus tip: IF the ABS system and seat belts are operating without error, there is a way to disable the seat belt reminded chime (which is for the drivers seat only) at least on the 2003 and prior. The procedure is outlined in the owners manual.
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Old 10-06-2022, 09:33 AM   #10
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Thanks, 1der.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1der View Post
Make sure the seat belt tab actually latches/matches the receiving latch on the pre-tensioner.
Yep. The seatbelt does buckle. That's fine. But it's clear it's not the right pretensioner for that year given the different connector types.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 1der View Post
Installation of the Scheel Mann seats should have utilized the existing seats pre-tensioners
Yep. The company that did the install clearly didn't know they needed to save the pretensioners from the old seats. They tossed the pretensioners with the old seats and didn't realize that was an issue until too late. Clearly I was paying them (and me) to learn.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 1der View Post
The number of ABS light flashes and the sequence are guides to failure points.
Thanks for this tip. I went out and confirmed it's code 4-7. I couldn't find a list of codes online specific for the 2003 Ford E350/Econoline, but did find other threads on other sites where someone proclaimed code 4-7 was passenger side pretensioner -- which makes sense since mine isn't connected.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 1der View Post
Test your pre-tensioner for proper resistance using an ohm meter.
Will do, as soon as I can find the specs.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 1der View Post
The two plastic connectors can be cut off and bullet connectors used to make the connections.
OK. In this case, I think I'd rather cut the "wrong" connector off the pretensioner and then bullet on the "right" connecter (which I found at a scrap yard). Any guidance on which wires go to which? The cable from the van has yellow/red and yellow/black, while the cable from the pretensioner has two blue/red wires. :-/
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