Bad clock spring symptoms go from faulty volume buttons to an airbag that may not open when you most need it.
Noticing these symptoms is the first step before taking action, and you must act quickly if you want your car to perform at the highest level.
In this article, you will find the most common symptoms of a bad clock spring.
Furthermore, you will learn how to diagnose them and what steps to take to solve the problem.
Common Bad Clock Spring Symptoms
This list includes the four most common symptoms of a clock spring gone rogue.
O1. Airbag Warning Light
The airbag is a function that most cars have within the steering wheel.
Conveniently, it’s also one of the first components to display symptoms of a bad clock spring.
In most cases, the airbag or SRS light comes up, most likely when you’re turning the steering wheel.
This symptom happens because the airbag is a sensible system.
It responds to the slightest fault because of errors in the system that may trigger and deploy it.
These errors could also keep it from deploying successfully.
In either case, the warning light lets you know that something is wrong and needs checking.
02. Steering Wheel Buttons Don’t Work
The steering wheel control lets you operate functions like the cruise control or radio volume via several buttons.
It may come a time when some or all of those buttons don’t work like before, and the issue is likely due to a bad clock spring.
Diagnosing this problem is pretty simple, and you can do it yourself.
Press the buttons while turning the steering wheel.
Pay special attention to see whether the buttons work when the steering wheel is in a specific position.
If they are working, then you’re likely dealing with a clock spring problem.
03. Horn Works Intermittently
The horn is not a function you use regularly but it’s still nice to have around.
However, sometimes it may not work regardless of how many times you press it.
When that happens, it may be another symptom of a faulty clock spring unit.
Diagnosing this problem is also a breeze.
Turning the steering wheel, use one of your hands to hold the horn button pressed.
If there are intermittent noises instead of a long and steady sound, then you should consider taking a closer look at the clock spring.
04. Steering Wheel / Traction Control Warning Light
A bad clock spring can affect the cruise control, which works with the traction control system and the electronic throttle control system.
As a result, all of these components will not perform well if there’s an issue with the clock spring functionality.
Plus, you will get a warning light from either the traction control or the electronic throttle.
Diagnosing this problem is a bit trickier because you will need an OBD2 scanner.
Use this device to check the trouble codes and determine whether the clock spring is causing the issue.
Consequences of Having a Broken Clock Spring Symptoms
If you notice any of the symptoms described here, you should address the issue and look for a solution quickly.
A bad clock spring is no joke, and it can affect the vehicle’s performance in more than one way.
It’s not just about a few damaged volume controls, either.
When the clock spring goes bad, it can leave you without cruise control or a functioning horn.
In the worst-case scenario, the airbag won’t function properly.
You’ll be driving the vehicle without noticing that the airbag will not deploy if you suffer an accident.
Another consequence of a bad clock spring is that some vehicles need the steering wheel angle for traction or stability control.
A car without a functioning clock spring leaves these systems unattended, preventing them from working as they should.
These are all scenarios you want to avoid when you’re driving the car on the roads.
Can You Repair A Clock Spring?
Sometimes, it may be possible to repair a faulty clock spring. However, professionals would tell you that it’s better to buy a new one still.
Clock springs are affordable units, and you need them to be reliable. You never know if the repaired unit will go rogue again and let you down when you most need it.
How Much Does Clock Spring Replacement Cost
The clock spring replacement cost is around $100 and $800, with the final cost depending on the car model, the new clock spring, and labor costs.
A new clock spring is available within $50 and $500, whereas you will have to pay between $50 and $300 for labor costs.
Why Are Clock Springs Expensive?
The reason why some clock springs are expensive is that some car models come with the clock spring and steering wheel control modules integrated into it.
As a result, you need to replace the whole unit even if everything else may be working fine.
Another issue is that many car models have clock springs with steering angle sensors built in.
After the replacement, you must calibrate and program the new sensor to guarantee it works well.
However, this also means that labor costs are more expensive because it involves using special tools.
But most car models require a quick replacement that doesn’t go beyond the $200.
So, chances are you won’t have to pay more than that.
Before taking the car to the shop, look around for different mechanics and prepare a budget.
Choosing the right professional will also help you save some money throughout this process.
How To Repair Bad Clock Spring
Before buying a new clock spring, consider whether your car works with RHD or LHD.
In each case, the clock spring assembly is different depending on where the steering wheel is.
Additionally, make sure to identify the generation compatible with your vehicle.
If the clock spring and column generation is different, then it may not fit or function correctly.
How To Replace Bad Clock Spring
Step 1: Preparations
- Make sure the vehicle is off, and start by removing the negative battery cable. Follow up by disconnecting the positive cable afterward.
- Wait between 20 and 30 minutes. During this time, the car will diminish the charge transferred to the airbag system.
Step 2: Remove The Airbag
- Find the bolts that keep the airbag attached under the steering wheel, and remove them to separate the airbag from the wire harness.
- Put the airbag face up at a safe location to continue with the procedure.
Step 3: Locate The Clock Spring
- Find the proper socket to match the center bolt and remove it.
- Use a pen to highlight the locations of the steering column, and do the same with the wheel. This way, you’ll make sure all components remain aligned after replacing the wheel.
- Unplug the steering wheel, which may or may not require you to use the steering wheel puller. Then, remove the bolts that keep together the box on the exterior of the assembly. Take the outer box out after.
- Now, you have free access to detach the wiring harness or the connectors.
- Locate the bad clock spring and use the new one to replace it. Connect all the wires accordingly. You can use a camera or your phone to take pictures of the wiring before removing the old clock spring. Use that as a reference.
Step 4: Put Everything Back in Place
- Without turning the wheel, replace the steering wheel just like you removed it in the first place.
- Plug back the airbag and the wiring.
- Place the cover one more time over the wheel, and tighten the bolts and nuts to secure it.
- Lastly, reconnect the battery cables.
Need more info? Check out this video for visual guidelines.
Commonly Faced Issues Before & After Repairing Broken Nissan Clock Spring Problem
Spotting the symptoms and replacing the clock spring can be a relief, but other problems may arise.
Check out this section to find some issues you may face after removing an old clock spring and installing a new one in your car.
01. VDC/OFF SLIP Light On
After installing the new clock spring, the traction control may not work properly.
The code reader doesn’t display any codes, and all of the wiring connection is correct.
This problem can turn into a headache real quick, but there’s something you can try before it gets to that point.
The problem is likely occurring due to the lack of movement in the steering angle sensor.
If you still have the old unit, take the steering angle sensor out of the clock spring assembly and attach it to the new one.
The steering angle sensor looks like a thin cylinder, commonly found in the back of the assembly, often with a white plug.
Try switching them and see if the unit works well now.
02. Left And Right Buttons Don’t Work
Another issue you may encounter is that the left and right buttons eventually stop working after replacing the clock spring.
There’s no one-way answer to this problem, as there are different reasons that could cause it.
For example, it may be happening because the new piece you bought ended up being a dud.
It could also be wiring issues, etc.
What you need to do here is to run an Autoscan.
This way, you will get a clear diagnosis and a direct answer to what’s causing the problem.
03. The Car’s Direction is Off
Imagine you’re driving your car, and you turn the wheel to take a corner, yet the car still seems to be going straight.
This is a real issue that can happen if you don’t align the steering wheel correctly.
All you have to do here is re-align the steering wheel and keep it in the center.
Check this video to learn more.
General FAQs of Bad Clock Spring Symptoms
01. What is A Clock Spring?
The clock spring is a unit consisting of flat wires found in the assembly of the steering wheel.
One end goes to the steering wheel, and the other end goes directly into the steering column.
People also call it spiral cable, airbag clock spring, cable reel, or steering wheel clock spring.
02. What is The Purpose of Clock Spring?
The clock spring maintains an electrical connection with the airbag and the steering wheel controls.
This is possible because the clock spring starts winding and unwinding while you’re turning the steering wheel.
Contrary to common belief, the clock spring doesn’t return the steering wheel to the center position.
03. Where is The Clock Spring in The Car?
Most of the time, the clock spring is on the steering column, right on the back of the steering wheel.
Almost every car has this function, but some don’t.
If you own a car without airbags, steering wheel controls, or horns, chances are there isn’t any clock spring.
04. Can You Use A Lock Spring After Removing it?
It’s possible to reuse the clock spring after removing it due to a replacement project, but you must be careful.
While removing the clock spring, keep the steering wheel in a neutral position and make sure to avoid turning the clock spring after taking it out.
If you want to reinstall it, do it in a neutral position.
05. How To Reset A Clock Spring?
- Start the engine.
- Let the engine idle for a bit.
- Turn the steering wheel to the right as much as possible.
- Turn the steering wheel to the left as much as possible.
- Repeat the procedure a couple more times while the engine runs.
- Take a 50-feet drive to let the steering angle sensor reset. The ABS and stability control light should come off.
Knowing how to spot bad clock spring symptoms is a must for any car owner.
What starts as a mild inconvenience can end up messing up your airbag and control systems, which can be dangerous on the road.
Luckily, spotting the signs and making a quick diagnosis is pretty easy once you know what to do.
With the information shared here, now you will be ready to spot a bad clock spring and act accordingly to the situation.