How to Replace a Clockspring in Vehicles

by Contributing Writer

You can replace the clockspring in your Vehicles when the airbag light stays on. The clockspring is a mechanism that supplies a constant electrical connection to the Supplemental Restraint System (SRS), or airbag, and the horn of your Vehicles. Even while your steering wheel turns, the connection is steady when your clockspring works properly, ensuring reliable deployment of the airbag in the event of a collision.

Under The Hood:

 How to Replace a Clockspring in a Dodge Ram

Unhook the negative battery cable and allow your Dodge Ram to sit for at least two minutes before continuing with the clockspring replacement. Let the capacitor discharge during this time to ensure the airbag remains intact during the repair.

Turn the steering wheel to align the wheels of your Dodge Ram in the straight forward position. Unscrew the screws that hold the speed control switches to the horn section.

Undo the fasteners connecting the airbag at the back of the steering wheel. Pull the airbag out just far enough to disconnect the wires attached to the harness of the clockspring wires.

Mark the clockspring to aid in replacement of the piece and remove the harness from the steering wheel. Remove the airbag from the wheel and place a matching mark on the steering wheel and the shaft of your Dodge Ram.

Remove the nut holding the steering wheel in place and utilize a steering wheel puller to remove the steering wheel. Locate and disconnect the connections to the clockspring and replace the mechanism with a Dorman Airbag Clockspring that fits your Dodge Ram.

Connect the clockspring wires and replace the steering wheel, clockspring harness and airbag module in the reverse order of their removal. Reattach the battery cable to your Dodge Ram to complete the replacement.

Items you will need

  • Steering wheel puller

 How to Replace a Clockspring in a GMC Sierra

Remove the negative battery cable of your GMC Sierra. Allow the capacitor to discharge for 10 minutes. Turn the steering wheel so the tires point in the straight ahead position. Set the ignition switch in the "lock" position and remove the key. Locate the fuse panel and remove the AIR BAG fuse.

Take off the knee panel under the steering wheel. Disable the airbag by unpluging the yellow connector at the base of the steering wheel. Take off the panel on the passenger side of your GMC Sierra to gain access to the yellow connector that engages that airbag, and unplug the connector.

Rotate the steering wheel of your GMC Sierra one-quarter turn and insert a screwdriver into the holes there. Press on the leaf spring to undo the pin, then rotate the steering wheel halfway around to gain access to the other holes that house the pins holding the airbag in place. Release these pins with the screwdriver.

Lift the airbag of your GMC Sierra toward the rear of the steering wheel top to expose the airbag wiring. Undo and label the lead wire from its clip on the airbag unit. Disengage the lead wire from the steering wheel and label it as such. Unplug the Connector Position Assurance and the retainer from the airbag unit.

Mark the steering wheel and the shaft of your GMC Sierra to ensure proper replacement of the steering wheel. Take off the snapring from the shaft and remove the nut that holds the steering wheel in place. Use a steering wheel puller to remove the steering wheel from the steering column.

Unscrew the screws holding the clockspring in place and separate all electrical connections to the clockspring. Ensure that you center the replacement clockspring properly before you reinstall the steering wheel for your GMC Sierra.

Items you will need

  • Screwdriver

  • Steering wheel puller

 How to Replace a Clockspring in a Nissan Maxima

Point the wheels of your Nissan Maxima straight ahead before you replace the clockspring. Keep the steering wheel right side up and in its level position.

Disconnect both battery cables of your Nissan Maxima, starting with the negative cable. Tape over the battery terminals to ensure that the cables make no contact with the terminals throughout the replacement process. Allow the Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) to discharge for at least ten minutes before you start the repair.

Take off the lid at the bottom of the steering wheel and disconnect the connection to the airbag. Open the lids at each side of the steering wheel and take out the bolts attaching the airbag to the steering wheel. Remove the airbag unit from the steering wheel of your Nissan Maxima.

Detach the connector for the horn of your Nissan Maxima and take out the nuts. Mark the steering wheel and the steering shaft for proper replacement later.

Undo the nut holding the steering wheel onto the steering column, and pull the steering wheel free with a steering wheel puller tool. Use model number ST27180001, or a comparable puller tool.

Separate the clockspring from its electrical connection and remove the screws holding the clockspring in place. Replace the clockspring with a new mechanism and ensure proper alignment for your particular Nissan Maxima model.

Reinstall all steering wheel components and the airbag unit in reverse order. Reattach the positive and negative battery cables.

Items you will need

  • Steering wheel puller tool, model ST27180001 or similar model

 How to Replace a Clockspring in a Chrysler Sebring

Disconnect the negative battery cable from its terminal and wrap the end of the cable with electrical tape to ensure separation during the entire replacement procedure. Allow the capacitor of your Chrysler Sebring to discharge for at least two minutes before beginning the replacement.

Unscrew the two screws at the back of the steering wheel that attach the airbag to the steering wheel, and remove the airbag from your Chrysler Sebring. Turn the steering wheel to make the wheels point straight ahead.

Separate the clockspring from the steering wheel and disconnect its connection to the electrical system. Use a flat-edged screwdriver to separate the clockspring and horn wire from the airbag bracket of your Chrysler Sebring.

Align the marks on the new clockspring to its setting in the steering wheel to ensure that the clockspring works properly. Turn the clockspring all the way around clockwise then back around counterclockwise three and three-quarter turns to line up the marks.

Screw the clockspring into place to a tightness of 6 inch pounds. Reattach the clockspring to the airbag and replace the airbag to its place on the steering wheel.

Items you will need

  • Electrical tape

  • Phillips head screwdriver

  • Straight-edged screwdriver

 How to Replace a Clockspring in a Dodge Intrepid

Disconnect the negative battery cable and keep the cable from touching the terminal during the entire clockspring replacement process. Allow the capacitor to discharge for at least two minutes before continuing with the repair of your Dodge Intrepid.

Ensure that the wheels of your Dodge Intrepid point straight ahead and pull the steering column to its most extended adjustable position. Remove the two screw covers from the back of the steering wheel and take out the screws holding the airbag in place.

Pull the airbag just far enough rearward to expose the two connections to the airbag and one to the horn. Very carefully separate the connections to remove the airbag from your Dodge Intrepid.

Undo the bolt holding the steering wheel onto the steering column and slide the steering wheel off. Locate the clockspring mechanism and unscrew the three screws holding it in place on your Dodge Intrepid.

Lift the clockspring straight up in order to remove it and replace it with a new part. Push the clockspring straight down and replace the screws to hold the clockspring in place.

Align the steering wheel on the steering column and hold it in place with a new bolt. Reattach the airbag and replace the negative battery cable to the battery terminal of your Dodge Intrepid.

 How to Replace a Clockspring in a VW Passat

Take the battery cable off of the negative battery terminal and separate the cable from the terminal for the duration of the clockspring replacement procedure. Ensure the steering wheel of your Volkswagen Passat is centered.

Place the steering wheel in its lowest possible position by releasing the adjustment lever. Pull the steering wheel of your Volkswagen Passat out as far as it goes and keep it in place with the position adjustment lever. Rotate the steering wheel 90 degrees counterclockwise.

Hold a screwdriver with a flat edge horizontally and insert it into the hole at the back of the steering wheel spoke on the right side. Release the airbag by pushing the screwdriver toward the airbag while holding the screwdriver handle as low as possible and pulling on the airbag.

Turn the steering wheel halfway around clockwise and repeat the steps with the screwdriver to release the airbag at both sides. Take apart the electrical connections to the airbag and remove it.

Separate the airbag electrical connector after removing the switch cover at the lower end of the steering column of your Volkswagen Passat. Loosen the nut holding the steering wheel in place with a wrench and center the steering wheel. Pull the steering wheel up the steering column and mark both the wheel and shaft for ease in centering the wheel upon replacement.

Remove the nut holding the steering wheel in place and remove the steering wheel. Disconnect the clockspring and separate all electrical connections to the mechanism. Replace the clockspring with a new one for your Volkswagen Passat.

Return the clockspring to its place behind the steering wheel and reconnect its electrical junctions. Follow the above steps in reverse order to reinstall the steering wheel and the airbag unit. Reconnect the negative battery cable to the battery terminal.

Items you will need

  • Straight-edged screwdriver

  • Paint or a marker

  • Wrench

 How to Replace a Clockspring in a VW Jetta

Lock the ignition switch by turning it until it clicks into place. Take the negative battery cable off of its terminal and allow the reserve power to discharge for at least ten minutes before you continue with the replacement of the clockspring for your Volkswagen Jetta.

Disengage the steering column of your Volkswagen Jetta and pull it all the way out. Place the steering wheel into its upper position and lock the steering column into place. Turn the steering wheel until its spoke is vertical.

Place a screwdriver into the hole on the back side of the steering wheel and gently push the screwdriver up to unhook the clamp attaching the airbag unit to the steering wheel of your Volkswagen Jetta. Rotate the steering wheel halfway around and unhook the clamp on the opposite side of the steering wheel.

Return the steering wheel to its center position and remove the connector from the airbag. Take the airbag unit off of the steering wheel of your Volkswagen Jetta and remove the bolt that holds the steering wheel in place.

Unscrew the screws holding the clockspring in place on your Volkswagen Jetta with a Phillips screwdriver and disconnect all electrical connections to the mechanism. Replace the faulty clockspring with a new unit and reconnect all electrical connections to the new clockspring.

Replace the airbag unit and the steering wheel in reverse order to how you removed it, and tighten the retaining bolt to 41 foot pounds of torque with a torque wrench. Replace the negative battery cable to restore power to your Volkswagen Jetta.

Items you will need

  • Straight-edged screwdriver

  • Phillips screwdriver

  • Torque wrench

 How to Replace a Clockspring in a Chevy Cobalt

Straighten the wheels of your Chevy Cobalt by turning the steering wheel to its neutral position. Turn the ignition off and remove the key.

Disconnect the negative battery cable in your Chevy Cobalt and keep the cable separate from the battery terminal during the entire repair process. Allow the airbag system to discharge for a minimum of two minutes before working on the steering column.

Open the Body Control Module (BCM) fuse center and remove the cover. Locate the two airbag fuses, AIR BAG (IGN) and AIR BAG (BATT), and remove both.

Turn the steering wheel of your Chevy Cobalt so that one of the side openings ends up on the top of the wheel. Insert a tool with a blunt end into the opening and depress the sprint mechanism. Repeat this procedure with the other opening and remove the face of the steering wheel.

Take apart all the electrical connections and remove the airbag. Unscrew the steering wheel nut and use a steering wheel puller to remove the steering wheel.

Unhook the clockspring from your Chevy Cobalt by removing all electrical connections to it. Replace the mechanism and then replace the steering wheel and airbag.

 How to Replace a Clockspring in a Nissan Pathfinder

Direct the wheels of your Nissan Pathfinder straight ahead and keep them in this position by locking the ignition in the "off" position. Allow the power supply to the Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) to discharge for at least 10 minutes before you replace the clockspring.

Take off the lid at the lower end of the steering wheel and separate the connection to the airbag. Open the side lids on the steering wheel of your Nissan Pathfinder and remove the ASCD steering and the audio steering switches.

Remove the bolts holding the airbag in place with a Tamper Resistant Torx tool, size T50. Take the airbag out of its place on the steering wheel of your Nissan Pathfinder.

Disconnect the horn and remove the nuts. Take off the dynamic damper and use a steering wheel puller tool to remove the steering wheel from your Nissan Pathfinder. Remove the cover of the steering column and unlock the clockspring connection.

Disengage the clockspring connections and remove the screws holding the clockspring in place on your Nissan Pathfinder. Remove the faulty clockspring and replace it with a new mechanism.

Place the clockspring of your Nissan Pathfinder in its neutral position by rotating the cable clockwise as far as it can turn. Roll the clockspring back in a counterclockwise direction two-and-a-half turns until the two arrows line up.

Replace all parts to the steering column and the steering wheel in reverse order. Tighten the retaining nut for the steering wheel to 22 to 28 foot pounds.

Items you will need

  • T50 Torx tool

  • Steering wheel puller tool

 How to Replace a Clockspring in a Dodge Caravan

Disconnect the negative battery cable and wrap tape around the terminal to prevent accidental contact during the repair of your Dodge Caravan. Allow the airbag to discharge for at least two minutes before working around the steering wheel.

Point the wheels of your Dodge Caravan straight ahead. Turn the key to the lock position and remove it. Lock the steering wheel into position by turning it half a turn toward the left.

Remove the airbag by first taking out the three bolts that attach the airbag to the steering wheel. Unplug the electrical connections behind the airbag and set the airbag aside, face up.

Take out the nut that holds the steering wheel in place on the column and remove the damper plate just below the nut. Mark the steering wheel shaft and the wheel of your Dodge Caravan for proper alignment when you replace the steering wheel.

Use a steering wheel puller to remove the steering wheel from your Dodge Caravan. Thread the puller no more than 1/2 inch onto the wheel to prevent damage to the clockspring.

Unplug the clockspring connections and replace the clockspring with a new one. Center the clockspring by rotating it clockwise until it stops, and then turning it counterclockwise so the wires end up at the top. Lock the pins in place and turn the clockspring halfway around counterclockwise so the wires end up at the bottom.

Put the steering wheel and the damper back in place and secure them with the steering wheel nut. Attach the airbag, horn and speed control wires to the clockspring. Replace the airbag and reconnect the battery to your Dodge Caravan.