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Airbag Clockspring Repair - Chrysler, Dodge, and Plymouth Cars and Minivans

Update: recall may cover clockspring repairs

Chrysler is recalling about 500,000 1996-1998 minivans and an extending a warranty on 1.3 million more because of the clockspring in the steering wheel, which provides power to some internal components, may have been installed off-center. This may cause the air bag warning lamp to illuminate; the driver's air bag, horn, or cruise control may stop working. For details, call DCX at (800) 853-1403 and have your vehicle ID number handy.

by H Fiedler

Note: this procedure will certainly void your warranty and may cause personal injury either during the repair or in a post-repair collision; it could also result in unintentional airbag deployment. We are not responsible for the consequences. We have not verified the content. Proceed at your own risk.

I posted this in response to a clockspring question. This basically tells do-it-yourselfer how to replace the clockspring which some dealers are charging hundreds of dollars for.

  1. Pick up the part at the dealer. They have them in stock since they sell so many. Different part numbers for cruise control or without cruise. I'ts not really hard to replace if you have basic mechanicical aptitude and some basic tools. Remember, airbags contain an explosive charge, so handle with care and avoid situations where you might zap it with static electricity.
  2. First make sure the front wheels are pointed straight ahead. The steering wheel should be in its normal position.
  3. Disconnect the negative side of the battery (1/2 inch wrench).
  4. Remove the three Phillips screws under the steering column shroud.
  5. Using an 8 mm socket remove the three bolts on the back side of the steering wheel.
  6. Lift the airbag assembly away from the steering wheel. Careful, there are wires attached!
  7. Flip the assembly over so you can see the wire connectors.
  8. Using a small screwdriver pry back the tabs for the cruise control connections and unplug.
  9. The air bag connector pulls straight out from the air bag. Look at the new clockspring and you'll see what I mean.
  10. Pull the plastic harness guide off the airbag studs.
  11. Disconnect the two ground wires. The one with the clear plastic tube over it has a tab you must depress while pulling it apart.
  12. Set the airbag assembly aside.
  13. Using a 21 mm socket (a 13/16" will work too) and a beaker bar, remove the steering wheel nut.
  14. Remove the counterweight assembly.
  15. Using a crayon or marker, mark the position of the steering wheel and the shaft so you get the steering wheel back on the same way.
  16. Use a steering wheel puller to remove the steering wheel. (Cheap to buy or rent).
  17. That black box with the warning labels is the clockspring assembly. Depress the two tabs (see the new one if not sure) and pull it out.
  18. Disconnect the two wiring connectors.
  19. Connect the wires to the new one and replace. This will break the seal. As indicated, do not turn anything until the steering wheel is tightened. There are two tabs on the assembly to keep it from turning until the steering wheel is replaced.
  20. Reverse the procedure to reassemble, except it is easier to put the column shroud on before the steering wheel. It was a little difficult to line up the two halves and get the screws going in the right way.
  21. Make sure all the wires are tucked in when reinstalling the airbag assembly.

When everything is done that pesky airbag light shouldn't come on while driving and you should have your horn and cruise control working once more!

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