Question about 1996 Audi A4

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1996 Audi A4 quattro airbags install

Hi! I have a 1996 Audi A4 Quattro 2.8 v6 that both airbags went off in. I have just purchased both new airbags for passenger side and drivers. Also have purchased a new modual. I would be intrested in knowing how to install the new ones in the correct procedure so that I dont end with with a big bang theroy if you know what I mean. Thanks

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  • barryf367 Jul 21, 2008

    Thanks! But I guess my main question is, do you have to disconnect the battery, reset the computer etc etc etc etc and if so what order or is just disconnecting the battery ontop of what you just said good enough. Thanks!

  • barryf367 Jul 21, 2008





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The main thing with dealing with airbags is to ground yourself before plugging them in. Any electronics shop can sell you an ESD (electrostatic discharge) wrist strap and ground cord for a few dollars. Use this to ground yourself securely to the frame of the car. This gives a pathway for static electricity in your body to discharge into the car, rather than into the airbag connector, potentially blowing the airbags. All the same, whenever possible, don't sit in front of the bag you're installing in case something goes wrong and it does blow.

Posted on Jul 21, 2008

  • Jeremy Dellow
    Jeremy Dellow Jul 21, 2008

    Gotcha - disconnecting the battery is a must when dealing with airbags. I saw a demonstration once where an airbag-equipped steering wheel was set in a parking lot face down, with wires attached to the igniter. These were touched off on a car battery from a safe distance and when the bag blew, it blew the steering wheel over 50 feet in the air. There's a LOT of power in them, and you have to respect that. Definitely disconnect the battery and ground yourself to the chassis. If you can't find a ground cord, at least touch the frame for a few seconds to discharge your body. Often this is enough, but if you can get a ground strap, it'd be safer. Doing both of these is enough to keep you safe.

    When you disconnect the battery, it'll likely reset the computer. There are capacitors in the ECU that allow it to retain memory for awhile, but by the time you finish doing the install, those caps will probably be drained, which will put the ECU into learn mode. What you'll see most likely is a little drop in power and maybe some idle fluctuation. Over the course of some driving, it'll relearn how to run correctly, and the driveability will smooth out.

    If your airbag light is still on after the install and reset, you'll have to have it turned off. Some generic code scanners can do this, but if not, you'll need access to VAGCOM (Audi/VW diagnostic software) to turn it off. A dealer will likely hit you an hour's labor to turn it off even though it only takes about two minutes. If you have a laptop computer, go to and download the software (they're the providers of it), and go to ebay and order an interface cable (search for 1996 audi a4 vagcom cable and you should find them for about $20). With that, you can do a tremendous amount of diagnostics on your car, plus clear fault codes and check engine lights, airbag lights, etc. If this isn't feasible, try to find an independent shop that specializes in European cars (anyone who deals in Mercedes, Audi, VW, Porsche, or BMW will likely have VAGCOM), and they'll probably turn it off for you for a few dollars, or even for free.



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