Repairing your own clockspring - not easy, but satisfying

The_Roadie

Original poster
Lifetime VIP Donor
Member
Nov 19, 2011
9,957
Portland, OR
Summary: Repairing steering wheel clockspring
Difficulty: 5 out of 10 for detailed electronic work
Estimated Time: 3-5 hours
Part Numbers: varies by number of steering wheel features (mine was 26086702, other reports mention 26090357)
Cost: Zero

I hope NOBODY needs to do this EVER, but I was both curious and cheap, so I spent five hours fixing a broken clockspring to save $180. Pretty good hourly rate. But I was a dumb butt for breaking it in the first place by accidentally spinning my steering wheel while it was disconnected from the rack. After three rotations, the flex cable assemblies shear off and the airbag and steering wheel buttons are dead.
Some folks might find the pics useful for doing other things inside the steering column, though.
Taking out the airbag. Two holes to press a pin punch into. Disconnect battery FIRST!!!!!
clockspring02.jpg

Airbag down:
clockspring04.jpg

Removing locking plastic clips from airbag connectors.
clockspring05.jpg

Pinch connectors and remove
clockspring06.jpg

Turn horn wiring spring post 90 degrees and remove
clockspring17.jpg

Remove 21 mm nut
clockspring20.jpg

Pull on wheel and wiggle. It might come off with no need for a puller.
clockspring22.jpg

Clockspring
clockspring23.jpg

Circlip holding it on
clockspring25.jpg

Snap ring pliers in use
clockspring26.jpg

Shaft without clockspring assy.
clockspring29.jpg

Removing clockspring cover
clockspring37.jpg

Busted guts
clockspring38.jpg

Broken off end of flex cable
clockspring40.jpg

Vehicle end connectors. 6 pin one for airbag, 8 pin for steering wheel buttons
clockspring43.jpg

Sheared off connector end
clockspring45.jpg

Flex cable under retention clip, showing cold ultrasonic weld connection
clockspring46.jpg

More detail
clockspring44.jpg

Closeup of weld
clockspring56.jpg

Cut off damaged part - new flex cable end
clockspring58.jpg

Besides the two flex cables, there is a flat nylon ribbon for cable guidance and slipperiness in the spool. It has its own slot to fit in.
clockspring60.jpg

clockspring59.jpg

Cables and ribbon arranged in the spool, ready to be reconnected.
clockspring61.jpg

clockspring62.jpg

clockspring63.jpg

End of cables prepared by using Dremel with sandpaper flapwheel to remove plastic coating but leave the copper conductors.
clockspring64.jpg

Conductors tinned and connectors prepared and arranged nearby. Flex cable substrate is extremely sensitive to heat - have to solder quickly and get off .
clockspring66.jpg

Jump wires added. Whew. This was the crappy part. Needed my magnifying binocular hood.
clockspring67.jpg

Full CCW test
clockspring68.jpg

Full CW test
clockspring69.jpg

Full CCW to CW is six 360 degree rotations. Three each way from centered. Rack and pinion steering gear required only TWO rotations each way from centered.
 
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Reactions: Blckshdw and jpimp

Mark20

Member
Dec 6, 2011
1,630
Hats off to you! I've never tried soldering flex cable but I'm sure it can be challenge. Did you straighten out that one jumper that looks a little close to its neighbor?
 

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