Steering: Replace Clockspring

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The clockspring on the Dodge Stealth and Mitsubishi 3000GT/GTO allows the steering wheel to be turned 360°+ and still keep the connection to the electrical components. This includes the horn, radio buttons, cruise control, and airbag. If any of these don't function or if more than one does not function your clockspring may be to blame. Most of the times the SRS light will come on but only a dealer can scan for this to see if it is in fact your clockspring.

DISCLAIMER: Serious injury can be a result of improper removal/installation techniques due to the airbag.

Tools Needed

  • Basic hand tools

Parts Needed

  • Clockspring (if buying used, use a mulitmeter to test continuity. The service manual has detailed directions)

Preparation

Please read all of these directions. They are a combination of the service manual and my own detailed findings. I am not responsible for an airbag going off. I used these directions and everthing went a-ok.

There are three key things to do in preparation of the clockspring replacement:

  • Straighten out the wheels/steering wheel
    This will ensure that the clockspring is centered as you will see later on.
  • Have the car in a place where you can jack up the front wheels
    This will make it alot easier to spin the steering wheel later to make sure nothing is binding.
  • Disconnect the negative battery terminal
    This will cut power to the SRS unit so the airbag won't go off accidentally. The service manual says to wait at least 60 seconds to make sure there is no power left going to the SRS unit. I waited a couple minutes just to be safe.


Replacing the Clockspring in a Mitsubishi 3000GT/GTO or Dodge Stealth

Remove the Kick and Center Console Panels

There is some pre-removal before you can start getting into the actual wheel. I found it easier to do it all at once before getting to wheel/airbag itself.

  1. Remove the side console carpet. There will be a screw on the side, a plastic pop tap by the gas pedal, and some blind plastic tabs on the side of the console.
    Center console side panel
    Exposed center console

  2. Remove the panel that goes around the steering column. There will be some screws that screw the bottom into the top. Remove them and then gently pry the two halfs apart and remove them. You may need to adjust the column up and down in order to get these pieces out.
    Remove the steering column panel
  3. Remove the kick panel/knee protector dash panel. Pop out the rheostat garnish, the switch garnish and disconnect the connections. This will expose a 10mm bolt in each hole. There are two more in the lower left and lower right of the protecter. I found that you do not need to remove the hood release, simply rest the knee protector on the floor.
    Center Console and kick panels removed

Remove the Airbag and Steering Wheel

Now you should have full access to the connections the clockspring makes in the dash area and we can begin removing the steering wheel.

  1. Remove the airbag. The airbag is bolted to the wheel with four 10mm nuts from behind. Be careful when removing the airbag. After the 4 nuts are removed the airbag should be loose but will still have the electrical connections. There are connections for the radio controls, cruise control, horn, and the airbag itself. The manual says to pry the connection to the airbag with a flat screwdriver. Be careful not to break the tabs that hold it on. The rest just have a sqeeze tab so they should disconnect easily.
    4 bolts attaching the airbag
    Wires attached to the airbag

  2. Remove the steering wheel. You should now be looking at a steering wheel that is attached with a 17mm nut at the center. Make sure that the steering wheel is center and the wheels are straight before continuing, this will ensure proper clockspring alignment. There is a special tool that holds the steering wheel while you back the nut out If you do not have this either have someone hold the wheel tightly, or wedge a long bar in between the spokes of the wheel. The manual says not to bang/hammer on the wheel as it might damage parts of the steering. I used the bar for my floor jack. If the wheel ends up getting turned make sure you center it up before pulling it out. There will be a plastic cover piece where the wires come through the wheel, be careful not to break the plastic tabs.
    Bolt holding on the steering wheel

Replace the Clockspring

Now you should be looking at the clockspring if everything is centered up nicely, the two marks should line up. Says nuetral and an arrow. In the picture below you'll see the word nuetral and an arrow pointing up to it. It is slightly off because to be perfectly neutral the wires would cover that up but just so you see what i'm talking about. What I noticed on my clockspring was what looked to be a piece of silver tape. I think this was taped when it's new to ensure the clockspring stays centered. Since I had two used pieces, I can not verify this.

The clockspring on neutral
  1. Remove the blinker/wiper arm mount. The clockspring as well as the piece that holds the blinker and wiper arms is held to the column with three screws. Top left, top right, and bottom left corners. Since I got a used unit I got this whole piece, but new may only include the clockspring without the blinker/wiper arm mount. You could always just unscrew the clockspring from the arm mount but i didn't realize this until after. I found it easier to unscrew these before pulling out the unit so it's easier to identify which electrical connections are part of the clockspring and which aren't. Pictured below you can see the top two bolts that hold the whole unit on. They are recessed the farthest and are bigger.
    Clockspring with the blinker/wiper arm mount
  2. Disconnect the wire harnesses. Once that is loose you can now disconnect the electrical connections. If you plan on removing the whole unit with the wiper/blinker arms you will have a couple more connections.
    • There is a big connection for the blinker on the left side of the steering column.
      Wire harness for the blinker (left of steering column)
    • You can disconnect the connections on the right side. There will be a bunch of smaller ones this time.
      Other wire harnesses (right of steering column)
      Other wire harnesses (right of steering column)

    • You'll still notice that the unit is still connected by orange wire loom. This snakes its way along side the console and under the armrest into the SRS unit. You will need to follow this and disconnect it. First start by unhooking the plastic tabs/zipties that hold the wireloom to the side of the console. I found it easier to cut these and use zipties to reinstall. You could always use plyers on the other side and save them or cut them and buy new ones.
      Orange wire loom along center console
    • You'll find the loom snaking its way under the armrest box. Open up the top and you'll notice two brass screws toward the back and a plastic panel covering the two in front. Pop the plastic panel off the front and you'll be able to access the screws underneath. The whole unit will then lift out. You should be staring at the SRS unit now. Be careful not to bang or mess with it.
      Wires leading to the SRS unit
    • The clockspring connection is the one closest to the drivers seat and has a red connecter. It it secured via a double locking mechanism. In order to access it i found it easier to unbolt the armrest bracket. There are two 10mm bolts, one on the passengers while the other on the drivers.
      The armrest bracket near the SRS unit
    • Now you should notice there is a green tab. At first in its locked position, the green tab will be down.
      Green tab in the locked position (down)
    • In order to unlock it you have to push the metal wire towards the SRS unit with the tip of a screwdriver. Do not try to pry the tab up or wedge the screwdriver between the wire, tab, or SRS unit as you will damage the unit. Just push on the wire and the green tab will automatically pop up.
      Green tab in the unlocked position (up)
    • You can now push the tab on the small red connector for the clockspring and pull the connection out. The clockspring should now come out along with the wiring.
  3. If you removed the clockspring as well as the blinker/wiper arm mount follow these next steps to make the swap. There are two screws that hold both units on. They are above and below the arms. Back them out and the two units should slide out where you can transfer them to the other arm mount. Again this is only if you have a used clockspring that has the arm mount. You could always just unscrew the clockspring from the used arm mount but I didn't realize this until after.
    Wiper Arm Joint
    Blinker Arm Joint

  4. Install the new clockspring. Start by feeding the orange loom to its original location and plug it into the SRS unit. Push down on the green tab to lock it in place. Zip tie the loom to the console or use the plastic zip tie tabs. Reinstall the clockspring on the column and make all the neccessary connections. they should only fit in one connection. Now after you got them all connected back up you need to realign the clockspring to neutral. As you can see below the arrow should be pointing to neutral, you will have to look under the wires coming out.
    Clockspring set to neutral
  5. Put the steering wheel back on. Make sure the wheels are still straight and the clockspring remains in neutral. There are 3 holes in the back of the wheel and 3 tabs on the clockspring. These should line up when your placing the wheel back on.
    Line up 3 holes/tabs on the clockspring
    Line up 3 holes/tabs on the clockspring

While you are placing the wheel back on make sure to install the plastic cap where the wires go through. Also the wheel should be straight, the clockspring should be in neutral, and those holes should line up. This will ensure proper clockspring alignment. After this is done, bolt on the split washer and nut. This is a good time to test operation. Jack the front of the car up so the wheels turn easily. Turn the wheel from side to side and listen for any binding sounds and make sure everything is operating properly.

Reinstall Airbag

You may now carefully reinstall the airbag making all the proper connections. Go ahead and reinstall the rest of the parts and reconnect the battery.

Your clockspring should now be functional.


This article originated from a page on Antoni's 3000GT/Stealth Website by Toni.