1968-2013 Full Size Vans Econolines. E150, E250, E350, E450 and E550

Airbag Code 51 - SOLVED

Old 05-11-2019, 04:52 PM
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Airbag Code 51 - SOLVED

Airbag Code 51 was one of the reasons I was getting ready to dump my 96 E350. I did some research on it, and found several Youtube videos on it. One suggested that the cause could be a problem with the battery cables. That made sense to me, as we had just had a problem with them. In fact, I have been trying to determine the correct lengths so I can have some new, upgraded ones made.

Anyway, the result of the problem with the battery cables is that the airbag control module (which is made of Unobtanioum) has decided that there is a fault in the system, so it burns out a thermal fuse so that the airbag cannot be fired. This is a safety measure to ensure that an airbag won't deploy when it shouldn't, like, say, when you are bombing down the Interstate at 70 mph!

Anyway, to make a much longer story short, the cure is to replace the thermal fuse. Disconnect the battery, wait about 20 minutes to allow the capacitors to drain down, and remove the air bag module. (Blue box under the driver's side dashboard on my 96 E350. Two 5/16" [8mm] bolts.) Remove the cover, remove the old fuse, and solder in a new one. Do NOT remove the resistor and replace it with a second fuse!!!! I saw one Youtube video where that was done. Not good!

Where to get the fuse? Amazon, of course. OR wherever. It's just a 172C thermal fuse. I could not find an exact match, but I did find 170 C fuses. I paid about 10 bucks for a pack of 10.

After the repair, I replaced the module, connected the battery, and no more flashing airbag light!

Just posting this for someone who may have the same problem. With OEM modules unavailable, and rebuilt modules running $300 or so, with no warranty, I think it makes sense to try this for those who can solder small components.

Old 05-12-2019, 04:35 AM
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This is great info--we should lobby to have it included in our Tech Folder here.

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