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We have a 2005 Ford Escape XLS that has the airbag light on the dashboard illuminated with error code 16.

After some searching I found how to get the error code by counting the sequence of flashes before the light remains sold. The sequence is one flash, pause, 6 flashes for an error code of 16

The only information I can find about this error is that it is:

passenger occupant classification system fault

Troubleshooting steps completed:

  • Removed and reinserted connectors under passenger seat
  • Cleaned all connectors under passenger seat
  • Disconnected the vehicle battery for a period of 5 minutes
  • Cleaned seat-belt release

Observations:

  • If I sit in the passenger seat and start the vehicle, the trouble light doesn't illuminate.
  • If I buckle the passenger seat belt, with no passenger, the passenger airbag disabled indicator light on the center console will occasionally flash. Occasionally it will remain solid for the entire trip.

Based on the above troubleshooting steps and error code, what is the ultimate resolution to this problem?

Do additional steps need to be performed?

Note: I was thinking of replacing the entire seat but want to rule out the main module or other components I may not have thought of.

  • I think you are on the right track, but would think you should be able to replace just the sensor in the seat and not worry about the entire seat ... though it may take some effort to accomplish. I've never done this, but assume it could be done. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Apr 30 '15 at 16:23
  • @Paulster2 I agree, but I cannot find any part numbers or information on replacing them (I'm imagining there are 3) which is why I'm thinking of just replacing the entire seat. I'm sure a scan tool would narrow down exactly what is going on but the one I have only does ODBII codes, so I'm left with the instrument cluster error. – sr_1436048 May 1 '15 at 9:53
  • Does this fault occurs when you do something that you have mentioned as your second observation? Occupant classification system tries to figure out if the seat is occupied by an adult, child or an object. If nobody is sitting on the seat and you put the seat belt, then the airbag ECU might get confused and that could be the reason for error – knocksAndMisfires May 31 '15 at 12:18
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I had looked at this and didn't realize it was an Escape. A friend of mine has one with the exact same problem. I would put money on it not being the sensor, but the connector you've cleaned. Not that cleaning it would have caused any further issues. This is a common problem with the Escapes.

The easiest way to fix the issue is to remove the connector all together and solder the wires together. To do this, cut the connector out, realizing the alignment of the wires (I believe they are different color combos on each side of the connector). Solder the ends together, then use heat shrink to seal the solder joints up. The only issue with doing this is it is permanent. Unless you cut the wires or unsolder them, removing the seat in the future will be problematic. You shouldn't have a problem with this airbag sensor again, though.

  • Can you confirm your friend had code 16 and not code 47? – sr_1436048 May 1 '15 at 10:18
  • @sr_1436048 - The problem was the same one with the connector to the sensor, not the one to the seat belt. I had read the SRS code with my handheld and diagnosed. BOTH codes are common, so would bet you may have to do the same with the seat belt wires at some point as well. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 May 1 '15 at 10:54
  • you're probably right - yesterday was really humid here and the light didn't come on..... Don't know if I want to cut the connectors and solder just yet. – sr_1436048 May 5 '15 at 15:26

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