How to Replace a Clock Spring

by Adam Raphael

The clock spring, or coil, is part of your automobile steering wheel; it retracts and expands as the steering wheel turns. It provides "electrical continuity" for the airbag, horn, cruise control, radio and other vehicle controls. The connections on the clock spring can melt, necessitating replacement of the spring. You will know the clock spring needs to be replaced when it makes an usual noise, or if the horn is not working the way it should or the air bag light stays on continuously.

Open the hood of your car and find the battery. Remove the negative cable from the battery. The negative cable is the one with the minus sign (-) on it.

Let the reserve current that is in the system filter out for about four minutes.

Remove the trim cover from the steering wheel by removing the screws that hold it in place around the steering wheel. Save the screws in a small marked envelope for easy identification later.

Locate the airbag mounting bolts on the side of the steering column. Remove the bolts from both sides of the column by hand and place them in a marked envelope.

Lift out the center panel of the steering wheel as far as it will go. Locate the wiring harness for the airbag. Disconnect it carefully and place any screws or bolts in another small marked envelope.

Remove the airbag and lay it gently on the front seat of the car.

Undo the center nut from the steering column with a wrench. Set the nut aside in a marked envelope.

Remove the steering wheel dampener. It is the large rectangular object in the center of the steering wheel. Lay it on the front seat of the car.

Unscrew the remaining screws on the steering wheel and place them in a marked envelope. Remove the steering wheel.

Remove the clock spring that holds together the hardware and the wiring harness. Install the new clock spring.

Replace the steering wheel and position the dampener back in place.

Replace the steering column nut in the center of the steering column.

Re-install the airbag and the harness. Connect the wiring for the airbag. Reattach the bolts on the side of the steering column for the airbag mount.

Re-install the steering wheel, trim and battery cable.


  • close Do not attempt this if you are not familiar with the workings of a car.

Items you will need

About the Author

Adam Raphael has been writing technical and health-related articles for a variety of online sources for five years. His articles have appeared on a variety of popular blogs and other websites.