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MX-5 gets a bit over-protective. A guide to disabling the passenger airbag

I'm delighted with the Mazda MX-5, it's a really fun car to drive and great value too, despite all the impracticalities of a two seater soft-top. My 4-year old nephew has also taken a great interest in it too, often asking to have a ride in it. Up until now this hasn't been possible because the passenger airbag on the Mk2 models doesn't have a control to disable the airbag so as to make it safe for children in child and booster seats. I've visited many a Mazda dealership and searched their website extensively to find a solution to this problem, which I know exists as there is after market 'kit' you can buy. Getting hold of the kit is a whole different story, so I shan't bore you with those details.

A Google search last night revealed this forum entry with details of how to disable the MX-5 passenger airbag. I'd Googled the same query several months ago but couldn't find any mention of a solution. A simple solution, which, after looking at the photographs, got me thinking how to improve that.

MX-5 passenger foot well to disable passenger airbag  passenger airbag connector MX-5 passenger foot well  inside an MX-5 passenger foot well.

(note: these are images from another MX-5)

The photographs show that the glovebox is removed, behind which is several wiring looms. Look for a yellow sheathed cable and connector. Simply disconnecting the connector disarms the passenger airbag, as reported on the dashboard by a flashing airbag warning light.

Since I don't want the hassle of removing the glovebox and pulling the plug connector apart each time I want to disable the airbag, I found an alternative solution.

It involves placing a key switch (ok, it needn't be a key operated switch but would ensure it wasn't accidentally enabled/disabled) on a piece of plastic just inside the top left part of the glove compartment. This means that it is concealed from view and there is no visible modification to the dashboard. I left the yellow connector together and simply spliced into the red wire and soldered an additional length of cable to the spliced cable. This has allowed me to place the key switch further away from where the tight wiring loom runs.

A hole was drilled into the plastic left of the glovebox and the barrel of the key switch secured. See the photograph below:

key switch fitted to Mazda MX-5 to disable passenger side airbag    Max in my MX-5 for the first time

My nephew certainly appreciated the effort as we drove to the garden centre this afternoon for his first outing in my car.

Click on each photograph for a larger version.


So, does the warning light still flash when you turn off the airbag?

Hi Danny,

Thanks for your comment. Air bag switch works brilliantly. When switched to the off position, the airbag warning light flashes which I think is helpful to remind me that it is disabled.

Hope this helps



I had the same problem to find info. I disabled my airbag. know i can take my daughter for a cruise:)

Greetings from Holland,


Hi. I tried this with the left hand drive version. Now the airbag light is flashing but it's the driver airbag light and not the passenger airbag light. Is this supposed to happen ?

Hello... I can only remember one airbag light on my MX5, and it was that that was flashing. Unless you are confident that there is only one light on the dash, I say you've disabled it.

When I followed the cable from the glove compartment, it definitely joined up with the passenger airbag, but whether that disabled the driver side one or not, I'm not sure.

I suspected the light only indicated a fault with the airbag system, i.e. a cable disconnected, rather than it being totally shutdown.

My air bag light flashes and as far as i know nothing has been disconnected any ideas.

 ...best get that checked out then. A fault may be in the airbag firing circuit or the system needs pressurising. Best take it to the dealer to get them to look at it.

hiya, trying to unplug at the moment, just can't get it to budge! Have worked out that there's a lever thingy but really can't move the two parts away from each other! Any hints?

 Yep... perseverance!  Try using a tiny flat-head screwdriver and jam it between the connectors to release the catches that prevents the connector from coming apart.

Any ideas which cable to disconnect in my 1996 Miata, please see the picture below, there is no yellow cables:


Hi thanks for tip,

I was able to unplug airbag from my 96 miata as well, I really spent some time looking for right airbag cable however, in my miata the cable was blue and it was tight together with another blue cable (i assume its horn) that needed to be removed for a while first, in order to unplug the another one. Now the warning lamp is flicking frequently so I think I managed it. It was also challenging to plug horn cable back in without airbag cable, it needed another trick as the connectors seem to be designed to plugin just together, not alone.

Not sure why you are doing this to be fair?!
The Legal viewpoint is that any child over 3 yrs old can sit in the front seat (the only seat in this case!) as long as they have the appropriate child restraint (booster seat, etc.)on which they would sit in ANY other car with an active airbag.
There is no reason to de-activate it in this instance, and is in fact more dangerous to do so as the child no longer has the same "safety" afforded to an adult.
I think you are confusing "rear-facing" car seats and airbags in this instance.
My daughter has been in my MX5 for several years now on boosters, etc. but as she is now over 1.35m tall, no longer needs any additional equipment and can just "jump in" any time she likes.

tell me there any risk of the bag firing by disconnecting/reconnecting the loom?

also does the ecu have to be reset to remove the warning light once the loom is reconnected and finally would you have to tell your insurance company?


Jonathan, brilliant! Thought the whole airbag issue/daughter in front seat was going to be a big problem - now fixed in a few minutes with your help! Cheers,


Does this work for the mark 2 mazdas (1997 / S reg). No airbag light on dashboard... Thanks

Hi jonathan,
I found your article and the associated comments very useful - thank you.

I have a 2004 MX5 Artic and have been considering selling it as i couldn't use it to drive my 11mth old to nursery and back in a front facing car seat because the mazda dealership advised the airbag in my model could not be disabled.

I was wondering what some of your readers thought about using front facing car seats in mx5's with disabled airbags?


Legally yes but medically a child smaller than average 12year old getting hit with force of an adult airbag will prob suffer some form of brain damage !

Hi, Ive just done evrything as you said, it all looks exactly the same. But my driver airag is flashing not my passenger one... I'm having my baby tomorrow nd have prob left it a touch late!!! Help!!

Hi I've done all this exactly as you said, but its my driver airbag that flashes not my passener one... help!!


There's only one light on the dash indicating if one of the airbags are disabled. If you've followed the instructions, then you have disabled just the passenger one.

Enjoy the baby in the MX5!

Hello Jonathan

I have a question. My mechanic warned me that in some cars the centralina, that is the computer that controls the electronics of the car might get upset by switching on and off the airbag as it was not expected to happen and thus it might jam the system. I expect that not to happen as Mazda used to sell some baby car seats that would automatically disable the airbag (licensed by Mercedes-Benz) . So what is your experience? Did you have any problem with your centralina afterwards?



I had no issues with switching the airbag on and off. I generally did it before switching the car on, but the warning light illuminated when disabled and went out when enabled. I assumed all worked as expected. 


Fortunately, it was never tested, however.

This is great, i thought i would just have a quick look on the net to see if it was possible to temporarily disconnect the air bag on my 1999 mx5 convertible when i had to unexpectedly take my 4 year old home. and found this solution great thank you very much just what i needed and when i needed it regards john from suffolk

Hi Jonathan,
Great article.  Well done! I'm just a tad unsure about this untested method and want to be more confident about getting it right.
I disconnected the yellow box and started the car. The RED AIR BAG indicator flashes 6 times every few seconds, indicating a fault with the air bag system. The YELLOW AIR BAG indicator, on the right side of the dash goes out when the engine starts, indicating that the passenger airbag is live. If those wires definitely go to the passenger airbag then that should work despite the indications. 
I bought a secondhand Merc child seat off ebay for £25. Reconnected yellow box. With seat fitted, or transponders placed on passenger seat correctly, when the engine starts the RED indicator goes out and the YELLOW indicator stays on constantly. This is the way I think things should work.
Not wanting to use a second hand car seat off ebay, although I may reuse the transponders, I was just wondering if you or anyone else has tried bypassing/forcing/rewiring the Passenger Airbag switch that lives just under the surface of the passenger car seat?

Do you have a picture of the splice that you made?

Thank you for the outstanding posts

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