Airbags, as automotive safety devices, were a long time coming. Firstproposed in the early '70s, they are now standard in the automotiveindustry. The Corvette airbag system is referred to as SIR: SupplementalInflatable Restraint. And what was originally a lifesaving devicedesigned for adults has in some instances turned into a danger forchildren.
Corvettes came equipped with passenger-side airbags beginning with the'94 model year. With the recommendation of placing children under 12years of age in the "back seat" to protect them from the dangers offront-seat airbags, it's difficult for the younger generation to enjoythe '94 to '96 SIR-equipped Corvette.
Now there's good news. General Motors offers a kit to retrofit an airbagcutoff switch to our Corvettes. It's GM part number 12453830 and isgeneric to the GM line. While Corvette Fever does not condone defeatingsafety devices in your Corvette, we want to make sure all ages ofCorvette lovers get an opportunity to ride in our plastic-fantastics.
Before working on the airbag system, confirm that it is functioningnormally. When the key is turned on, the airbag light on the driverinformation display should flash seven times, then go off.
If you have common handtools, can trim some plastic pieces, and solderone wire, you can install this in your Corvette in a weekend. For the'94 to '96 Corvette, the switch mounts in the console compartment. Thereis also a display lamp that should be visible to both occupants. Wedecided to mount this on the center console near the cigarette-lightercompartment.
After confirming that everything is working correctly,button up the installation by tying up the switch harness with theexisting harness that runs along the passenger side of the transmissiontunnel under the console floor tray, then across to the driver side.You'll have plenty of wire, and you'll need to loop the excess and tieit out of the way under the interior panels with cable ties; don't cut,shorten, or lengthen the switch harness. Industrial-strength cable tiescame with the retrofit kit, but we ended up using some small cable tieswe had on hand, and they worked just fine.
There's an owner's manualinsert page included in the retrofit kit. Place this into the owner'smanual you keep in the car for the benefit of service technicians andpossible future owners.
At this point, reassembly is the reverse ofdisassembly, so get your C4's interior back together and take theyounger generation for a cruise, safe in the knowledge that you'reprotecting them from the dangers of the airbag while indoctrinating themin the Corvette lifestyle.
Here are the items included...
Here are the items included in the kit: switch harness, stickers,rivets, switch mounting bracket, screws, display-lamp mounting bracket,and display-lamp harness. We couldn't wait to place the stickers on theswitch housing and display lamp. Not shown are the instruction bookletand the massive cable ties we didn't need to use.
Not shown in the previous...
Not shown in the previous picture is the CPA. No, not your friendly taxadviser. The small blue tab is a Connector Position Assurance retainerthat's clipped into the airbag switch-harness connectors. The airbagharness and wires consist of yellow-colored components, and the GMengineers really don't want this connection coming loose.
We didn't particularly care...
We didn't particularly care for the rivets that came in the kit. Becauseof where we're placing the switch, the rivets would not fit unless weplaced them upside down. We elected to use these 3/16-inch bolts andnuts with the integral star washers to attach the switch housing to theconsole floor.
Remove the shift button to...
Remove the shift button to expose the snap ring. You need to remove thesnap ring in order to remove the shift-handle knob. This is the mostdifficult part of the job, as you don't have lots of room to maneuverthe snap-ring pliers. Once the snap ring is removed, pull theshift-handle knob from the shaft. For the six-speed cars, there is nosnap ring. Instead, the knob unscrews, and there may be a set screw andinhibitor ring if your car is an early '94 or later.