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  #1  
Old 09-23-2011, 04:53 PM
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Steering Clock Spring Fix (lots of Pics)

I bought a heated steering wheel from a junk yard, so my wife's hand would stay warm. She drives a 2001 4.4L X5. I knew the clock springs were different but didn't know how they worked. So when I installed the new clock spring it was wound tight. So when I turned the wheel left it broke off all the internal connections inside and stopped working. To buy a new one was about $100 i think. Because I had time I decided to take it apart and see what I could do. I read and was told by the parts guys at the deal that they cannot be fixed. But I found a way. So far its been 6 month and everything works fine.

A clock spring is basically a way to wire power to the steering wheel buttons w/out the wires getting tangled or twisted when the steering wheel rotates. (I found this out).











When I finally got it apart, the wire ribbons were twisted up and some had bends in them.


This is the other half. The ribbons were supposed to be connected to that copper metal.

Took me a little while to figure out what in the world was going on and how all this worked.

I needed to find out if any of the ribbons were damaged. So I read the resistance of each individual wire in the ribbon to make sure the metal was still intact and not broken b/c of a bend or something.







This is where all 4 ribbons ripped apart when I turned the wheel. If the clock spring was not wound up all the way tight, they would have never been pulled apart.




So I sanded and stripped back the plastic so I could reconnect the ribbon to the metal.

Then I soldered the ribbon ends back to the metal.

Then glued the black plastic back over the ribbon.

Here each ribbon was re-connected to its appropriate connection.


Here I snapped all the connectors back together.

Here its all wound back up. Almost done.



All thats left is to stick it all back inside. And snap it back together.


All Done

Once I got it back in the car, it worked great. Before no green like b/c all ribbons had lost their connections.


This was a very difficult and tedious process. To fix just the clock spring probably took 6-8 hrs. But would go much faster the 2nd time. I spend so much time trying to figure out what the heck was all this mess and how the heck did I get in the middle of it.

I made sure when I installed the clock spring 2nd time around that it was not wound tight. From the tight position I turned it back 3 full turns. When driving it will never turn 3 full turns from center so I know there is no risk of destroying it again.

Comments or Questions....let me have them
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  #2  
Old 09-23-2011, 05:08 PM
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Very good work dude!
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Old 09-29-2011, 08:47 AM
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A strong word of caution regarding your fix... the circuit controlling the airbag also goes through the clock spring. Any failure with your fix could mean that your airbag does not deploy when you need it. Not a chance that I personally would take.
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Old 09-29-2011, 12:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luvmy03E53 View Post
A strong word of caution regarding your fix... the circuit controlling the airbag also goes through the clock spring. Any failure with your fix could mean that your airbag does not deploy when you need it. Not a chance that I personally would take.
If a wire breaks, the airbag controller will 'see' it and trigger a warning lamp, so, by scanning the system, the defect will show up.
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Old 09-29-2011, 12:15 PM
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This is true. Airbag controller sees all, even voltage spikes. Anything like broken or miswired connection would bring the light on right away.
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Old 09-29-2011, 12:19 PM
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Quite true.

Just wanted to make all aware that the airbag circuit is involved here as well. My wife wants a heated wheel in hers, too, but I'm not willing to risk her life or mine by performing this type of rework. Having years of experience with exactly this component in the E53 and E7x, I know intimately how it's manufactured and what it means in the vehicle's safety systems.
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Old 09-30-2011, 12:05 PM
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I just want to make it clear for all who read this in the future, that this repair was Only necessary b/c I negligently (did not understand how it worked) broke the Clock-spring.

I think it was quite easy to simply replace the heated wheel and clock-spring. Just involves a few bolts and plugging connectors together. Because I've done it twice now, I am guessing it would only take 20-30 min to do it again. Very straight forward. The toughest thing might have been installing the relay inside the glove box area.
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Old 04-13-2013, 03:56 PM
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steering clock spring

How did you know what wires went to what after they were broken off inside the slip ring?
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Old 04-15-2013, 05:04 PM
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It's been over a year now so the details are a little fuzzy.

First, I examined the breaking points. I looked to see which ribbon lined up correctly with the torn pieces. This was sort of like a puzzle, I held the pieces together and it was pretty clear.

Second, I believe there was only 1 way all the ribbons (wires) can connect together. The ribbons a layered, meaning if you don't connect them to the appropriate places you won't be able to put everything back together.

So basically try to visualize how it will be reassembled and it should become clear where each ribbons (wires) needs to connect.
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