Column Clock Spring: The Answer to Your Steering Problems
Your car's cruise control isn't working, and your airbag light is on. Your horn is defective, so are your wipers. Your steering wheel is stubborn, and it's driving you nuts when turning it. You're not going bananas, but your column clock spring may have a screw loose. The clock spring is the part responsible for keeping the steering column's controls operational. If it becomes defective, you need to repair or replace it immediately. Buying a replacement will prevent further damage on your car's other components and will give you comfort and ease the next time you hit the road.
What's in it for me?
Repairing a defective column clock spring may be cheaper than buying a new one, but it will be more beneficial if you change it as soon as it wears out. Here are other benefits of buying a fresh clock spring for your steering column:
- Resume the steering wheel's power to rotate a full 360 degrees without resistance.
- Restore the functionality of attached electrical components such as airbag, horn, and cruise control, among others.
- Save the other components from further wear caused by a defective column clock spring.
What to look for?
Now that you know the perks of purchasing a new column clock spring, here's our two cents on what you should consider when choosing which product to buy:
- High-quality OE replacement. Check if the clock spring is specific to your car's make, model, and year to ensure direct fit.
- Easy installation. Buy only the product with pre-attached connectors, so you won't have problems with wire splicing during replacement.
- Plastic material. Commonly, clock spring are made of polyethylene. This ensures flexibility and durability.
What to watch out for?
Though there are several sellers of aftermarket parts when you search online, you have to be wary of a few things.
- Warranty. Choose a product with the longest years covered. This is to ensure that you can still have a replacement should the clock spring wears out after some time.
- Installation guide. The product should automatically come with an instruction manual. This is to help you replace the clock spring by yourself.
- Second-hand products. Clock springs are car-specific components, and if you choose to buy a used one, it might not perfectly fit into your car's steering column, or it may easily wear out due to its age.
Replace your Defective Column Clock Spring and Make That Pesky Airbag Light Come Off
As the steering wheel turns, the column clock spring expands and retracts inside its housing to maintain a stable supply of electricity for all the parts in your car's Supplemental Restraint System (SRS), including the horn, the airbag and some vehicle controls. This clock spring can fail with age or due to twisting of the steering when the pitman arm is disconnected. When this happens, your airbag light will turn and stay on, and your horn may not work, so you'd better replace a defective column clock spring as soon as possible.
Difficulty level: Moderate
Things you'll need:
- Replacement clock spring
- T50 and T30 Torx bit
- Steering wheel puller tool
- Phillips screwdriver
- Small ratchet set with small extension
Step 1: Direct the wheels of your ride straight ahead and keep the wheels in that position by putting the ignition in the "off" setting.
Step 2: Disconnect the battery. To prevent accidental contact while doing the replacement, wrap a tape around the terminal. Allow your airbag's power supply to discharge first for at least two minutes before you start working around the steering wheel.
Step 3: Loosen and remove the bolts or screws that secure the air bag at the lower end of the steering wheel. Disconnect electrical connections behind the airbag and remove it. Set the airbag aside with its face up.
Step 4: Unplug the connections that secure the steering column cover and take it off. Disengage the horn.
Step 5: Remove the bolt or nut that holds the steering wheel in place and detach the damper plate found below the nut. Get a marker and mark the steering wheel and the shaft's position so that you can put them back in their proper places with ease.
Step 6: Using the puller tool, take the steering wheel off. The clock spring is right underneath the steering wheel, on top of the steering column. To avoid damaging the spring, thread the puller onto the wheel no more than ? inch.
Step 7: Disengage the clock spring connections, remove the screws holding it in place, and replace it with a new one.
Step 8: Put the clock spring in neutral position by turning it clockwise as far as it can turn. Rotate it back in counterclockwise direction so the wires end up at the top. Lock the pins in place. In counter clockwise direction, rotate the clock spring counter two-and-a-half turns so the wires end up at the bottom or until the two arrows line up.
Step 9: Carefully install the steering wheel and the damper back in place. Secure them with the steering wheel nut. Connect the airbag, horn, and speed control wires to the new clock spring. Reinstall the airbag and put everything back on in reverse order. Reconnect the battery.
An experienced DIYer can pull the task off in an hour; it's normal for a beginner to extend for a little over an hour to approximately two hours.