Your vehicle’s steering wheel packs quite a few vital and interconnected components. From the airbag to the horn, everything on the steering wheel is important to your safety while driving. One of these vital parts is the clock spring.
If the clock springs break or are damaged, it can cause the airbag to deploy improperly or not at all. In some cases, a broken clock spring can also prevent the horn from working. A broken clock spring is considered a serious safety issue and should be repaired as soon as possible.
What is a Clock Spring?
As the name suggests, a clock spring keeps the electrical connection between the airbag and the vehicle’s electrical system. The clock spring itself is a thin, flat spiral-wound strip of metal that helps maintain electrical continuity between the various parts of the steering wheel as it rotates. The airbag is designed to deploy in the event of a collision, and the clock spring allows the airbag to deploy even if the steering wheel is turned.
9 Symptoms of a Broken Clock Spring
The following are nine symptoms that may indicate a problem with the clock spring in your vehicle:
1. Airbag Warning Light
One of the first and most common symptoms of a broken clock spring is an airbag warning light. If the airbag warning light is illuminated on your dash, it means that there is a problem with the airbag system and it needs to be serviced.
Also Read: How to Test Airbag Impact Sensor
2. Faulty Steering wheel buttons
As the clock spring deteriorates, it can cause problems with the buttons on the steering wheel. The buttons may become unresponsive or they may stop working entirely.
3. Horn or other functions intermittent function
When the electrical connection between the airbag and the vehicle’s electrical system is interrupted, it can cause problems with other functions of the steering wheel. The horn may start to honk intermittently or it may stop working entirely along with other functions like the audio controls etc.
4. Steering wheel or traction control warning light
Other than the Airbag warning light, a broken clock spring may also trigger the Steering wheel or traction control warning light. If anyone or both of these warning lights are illuminated on your dash, it might mean there is a problem with the clock spring.
5. Airbags Won’t Deploy
A more serious symptom of a broken clock spring is that the airbags won’t deploy in the event of a collision. This is a serious safety issue as it can put you and your passengers at risk in the event of an accident.
Also Read: How to Test Airbag Impact Sensor
6. Reduced Engine Performance
This may seem like an unrelated symptom, but a broken clock spring can actually cause reduced engine performance. This is because the clock spring is responsible for sending signals from the steering wheel to the engine control unit. If the clock spring is damaged, these signals can be interrupted, resulting in reduced engine performance.
7. Reduced Fuel Economy
Even though it’s not as serious as reduced engine performance, a broken clock spring can also cause reduced fuel economy. This is again because of the disrupted communication between the steering wheel and the engine control unit.
8. Electrical sparking and smoke
Much like other electrical components in your vehicle, a clock spring can short circuit and cause electrical sparking and smoke. This is usually accompanied by an unpleasant burning smell.
9. Blown Fuses
Last but not the least, a blown fuse is another symptom of a broken clock spring. If you notice that any of the fuses in your vehicle have blown, it could be because of a problem with the clock spring.
Clock Spring location
In most vehicles, you will find the clock spring under the driver’s side airbag. There is a yellow connector that is used to plug in the Airbag electrical harness. The clock spring is usually located behind the steering wheel and in front of the steering column. It can be found by tracing the Airbag harness from the connector to where it plugs into the clock spring.
Can a Clock Spring Be Repaired?
A clock spring can usually be repaired, but it is best to consult with a professional to see if your particular clock spring can be fixed. In most cases, a new clock spring will also need to be installed and is recommended.
Can You Reuse a Clock Spring?
When removed correctly and with the help of a professional, a clock spring can be re-used. However, it is not recommended as there is no telling how much damage has been done to the clock spring. A new clock spring should be installed to ensure proper airbag deployment and function.
Clock Spring Replacement Cost
The part itself is usually not that expensive, and you can find a clock spring for around $100 or more. However, the labor cost to replace a clock spring can be around $300 since it is located deep inside the steering column. If you need to have your clock spring replaced, it is best to consult with a professional to see if they can do it for you.
A clock spring is a crucial safety component in your vehicle, and if it goes bad, it can cause a number of problems. If you notice any of the symptoms of broken clock spring, it is best to consult with a professional to see if you need to have your clock spring replaced.
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