Been a couple threads recently talking about the passenger sensing air bag system on the Solstice. One was getting a little of track, so thought I would start a new thread with this info.
First off, great explainations in the owner's manual. For those who haven't had the chance to read it, here is an edited version. I removed parts that talk about Child Restraints since they do not appear to be the issue. Added a little bold
where I thought it was needed.
Originally Posted by 2006 Solstice Ownwer's Manual (On-line edition) (edited by Small Dealer)
Passenger Sensing System
Your vehicle has a passenger sensing system. The passenger airbag status indicator will be visible when you turn your ignition key to RUN
The words ON and OFF, will be visible on the instrument panel during the
system check. When the system check is complete, either the word ON or the word OFF, will be visible.
The passenger sensing system will turn off the passenger's frontal airbag under certain conditions. The driver's airbag is not part of the passenger
The passenger sensing system works with sensors that are part of the passenger's seat. The sensors are designed to detect the presence of a properly-seated occupant and determine if the passenger's frontal
airbag should be enabled (may inflate) or not.
The passenger sensing system is designed to turn off the passenger's frontal airbag if:
• The passenger seat is unoccupied.
• The system determines that an infant is present in a
rear-facing infant seat.
• The system determines that a small child is present in a
forward-facing child restraint.
• The system determines that a small child is present in a
• A passenger takes his/her weight off of the seat for a
period of time.
• The passenger seat is occupied by a smaller person, such
as a child who has outgrown child restraints.
• Or, if there is a critical problem with the airbag system
or the passenger sensing system.
When the passenger sensing system has turned off the passenger's frontal airbag, the off indicator in the instrument panel will light and stay lit to remind you that the airbag is off.
The passenger sensing system is designed to enable (may inflate) the passenger's frontal airbag anytime the system senses that a person of adult size is sitting properly in the passenger's seat. When the passenger sensing system has allowed the airbag to be enabled, the on indicator will light and stay lit to remind you that the airbag is active.
For some children who have outgrown child restraints and for very small adults, the passenger sensing system may or may not turn off the passenger's frontal airbag, depending upon the person's seating posture and body build. Everyone in your vehicle who has outgrown child restraints should wear a safety belt properly -- whether or not there is an airbag for that person.
If a person of adult-size is sitting in the passenger's seat, but the off indicator is lit, it could be because that person is not sitting properly in the seat. If this happens, turn the vehicle off and ask the person to place the seatback in the fully upright position, then sit upright in the seat, centered on the seat cushion, with the person's legs comfortably extended. Restart the vehicle and have the person remain in this position for about two minutes. This will allow the system to detect that person and then enable the passenger's airbag.
Caution: If the airbag readiness light in the instrument panel
cluster ever comes on and stays on, it means that something may be wrong with the airbag system. If this ever happens, have the vehicle serviced promptly, because an adult-size person sitting in the right front passenger's seat may not have the protection of the frontal airbag.
A thick layer of additional material such as a blanket, or aftermarket equipment such as seat covers, seat heaters, and seat massagers can affect how well the passenger sensing system
operates. Remove any additional material from the seat cushion
before reinstalling or securing the child restraint and before a small occupant, including a small adult, sits in the passenger position. You may want to consider not using seat covers or other aftermarket equipment if your vehicle has the passenger sensing system.
That last part is interesting about blankets etc. Doesn't appear to be involved in the recent threads but good to know. Wonder in a long winter coat could do it also?
For those that like their explainations a little more complex, and with lots of abbreviations, I present some service manual information.
Originally Posted by 2006 Solstice Service Manual
Inflatatble Restraint Passenger Presence System (PPS)
Important: The passenger presence system (PPS), and the seat bottom foam cushion is a calibrated unit and cannot be service separately.
After repairing or replacing the PPS, the system must be rezeroed in order to function properly.
The PPS is used to monitor the weight of an occupant on the front outboard passenger seat and communicate the status to the SDM whether to enable or suppress the deployment of the instrument panel (I/P) inflator module. The PPS consist of an electronic control module, sensor mat, wiring harness, and
PASSENGER AIR BAG ON/OFF indicators. The sensor is made up of several flexible conductive metal strips placed underneath the seat cushion trim. These sensor strips transmit and receive a low-level electric field. The weight of the occupant sitting in the front passenger seat is measured as a change in current flow within the sensor mat. If the sensor determines that the occupant weight is less than a specified value, the PPS module will send a suppress signal to the SDM to disable the I/P module. If the sensor determines the occupant weight is higher than a specified value, the PPS
module will send an enable signal to the SDM to enable the I/P. The PPS module will notify the customer of the enable/disable status by turning on one of the PASSENGER AIR BAG ON/OFF indicators located in the center of the instrument panel cluster (IPC). The PPS monitors itself for faults and will display flash diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) when a fault is detected and
the SDM commands it by using the PASSENGER AIR BAG ON/OFF indicators. The PPS will also notify the SDM of a fault and the SDM will request the IPC to turn the AIR BAG indicator located on the IPC ON. To determine what DTCs have been set by the PPS, the scan tool is used to command the SDM to request the PPS to flash the DTCs using the PASSENGER AIR BAG ON/OFF indicators located on the I/P.
One last quickie from a monthly tech newsletter form June of 2004. Included it because that is where I got the picture from.
Originally Posted by GM Tech Link June 2004
Sensing Method: Force Sensing Resistors
The PPS consists of an electronic control module, sensor mat, wiring harness, and passenger air bag status indicators.
The sensor mat is attached to the top surface of the bottom seat cushion foam and is made up of many very thin force-sensing resistors, strategically located across the surface. From these positions, this system can detect the size and shape of the object in the seat. As the seat is loaded, the resistance through cells lowers and the voltage through the mat changes. From this, the ECU monitors the pressure profile of the occupant to determine the proper classification.
The sensing system used in the Solstice appears to by built by IEE. ( www.iee.lu
). They also make systems that have been used in the Cadillac CTS and STS, the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savanna. They make three type of systems, a Passenger Presence Detection (PPD) system ( www.iee.lu/pdf/ppd.pdf
), a Child-Seat Presence and Orientation Detection (CPOD) system ( www.iee.lu/pdf/cpod.pdf
) and a Occupant Classification (OC) system ( www.iee.lu/pdf/oc.pdf
). Do not know specificly which type of IEE system the Solstice uses.
The key comes down to sensing a female passenger. The term most used is "5th percentile female and larger occupant". It is used in federal safety standards. It is described as "5th percentile adult female means a person possessing the dimensions and weight of the 5th percentile adult female specified for the total age group in Public Health Service Publication No. 1000, Series 11, No. 8, Weight, Height, and Selected Body Dimensions of Adults." Which appears to date back to the early 60's.
Here is some more detail on the "5th percentile female" as a crash test dummy.
Looks like it works out to around the 100-108 lbs range, depending on the source used and the kilogram conversion. Or right in the area that everyone has been posting about.
So all this comes down to, as the manual said, "a properly seated" person. And some of the posts have found that, move the person around, and the system will turn on and enable the air bag.
A service department that checks out a system that appears to be a proper weight distribution issue, will find nothing wrong. All they can do is check for stored trouble codes, which they may be none. Or try to track down an elussive intermitent electrical problem, which again, may not be there. (Now if the light stays on and repositioning doesn't change it, then get that checked out)
I couldn't find any posts or people having any actual repairs to the system, in the searches I did here on site, so it is hard to say if there have been actual problems. Air bag systems tend to be the most trouble free systems in cars.
I have spent time in a 2006 G6, and have seen the same thing. My wife, who I love but admit is not a "5th percentile female", can make the air bag turn off by moving her seat cushion and postition in the seat. When one of us notices it, she changes.
Advanced air bag systems are required by federal safety standards. So they are here to stay. As with anything new and technical, learning how to use it to it's designed intent is the best way to go.