Many many years back, airbags weren’t fitted into steering wheels. Today, to drive around without an airbag fitted in your car is ridiculously dangerous and even illegal. With the birth of airbags, a lot of things changed in the motor industry. One such thing is the steering wheel design, the wiring supplying power to the airbag and the wheel’s buttons.
Today an airbag can be termed as meeting federal standards if it’s hardwired into the vehicle’s electrical system. This is where the airbag clock spring comes in. It sort of looks like a hockey puck- it’s basically a coil retracting and expanding inside its housing while the steering wheel turns. It is a connection between the wheel and the vehicle. It transfers electrical signals to the functions on the steering wheel and maintains continuity for all the parts making up the driver’s airbag. These parts include the horn, airbag and any car controls like the radio, heat, cruise or even telephone in some vehicles.
How to know when your airbag clock spring is malfunctioning?
There are a couple of indications that will help you know if your airbag clock spring is malfunctioning. If you hear a strange noise when you’re turning your steering wheel, a disturbance in electrical connections to the controls on the steering wheel (sometimes you find they work, other times they don’t) or if your SRS light goes on, your clock spring may have malfunctioned. You can’t have just anyone looking up this sensitive component of your vehicle. You need a vehicle expert you can trust.
Testing this component should only be done with the right kind of diagnostic tool to establish the root of the problem. Removal can only be done by a trained professional and only when the battery has already been removed then followed by an electrical system discharge that is timed.
Clock springs, just like seatbelt pretensioners, airbags, etc., MUST be replaced in the event of a crash. If the steering wheel is damaged, expect your clock spring to need replacement as soon as possible. Although it seems small, remember the extremely crucial role it plays in your vehicle-transmitting electrical signals to some of the components you make use of every single day.
Many broken airbag clock springs could have been salvaged if we devised technology that locked the steering wheel or seatbelt firmly. This would keep the wheel from spinning and breaking. As it is, the steering wheel can only spin so far before it gets damaged and consequently ends up causing damage to the clock spring.
Before replacing any airbag parts, we urge you to check your manufacturer’s manual for any special instructions. Also make sure you are dealing with a reputable company when it comes to replacing your clock springs. You need a knowledgeable and skilled partner.