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Steering Column Switches Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Steering Column Switches Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$150

Talent:

****

Tools:

Flat & Phillips head screwdrivers, trim panel tool, T25 Torx driver

Applicable Models:

BMW Z3 (1996-02)

Parts Required:

Cruise switch, turn signal, wiper switch

Hot Tip:

Always disconnect battery before working on your electrical system. Wait ten minutes after battery is disconnected before working with airbag.

Performance Gain:

Repair faulty switches

Complementary Modification:

Steering column trim panels also covered in this tech article

The BMW Z3 steering wheel and steering column house a number of electrical and electronic controls. Steering wheel components include:

  • Horn button
  • Driver airbag
  • Steering wheel multi-function switches (includes radio and mobile phone control switches)
  • Steering angle sensor
  • Clock spring (electrical contact at base of steering wheel for components listed above)

Steering column components include:

  • Steering column switch cluster which includes turn signal switch, wiper--washer switch, headlight beam switch, cruise control switch, on-board computer (BC) switch (if equipped)
  • Steering column adjuster switch
  • Steering wheel heater switch (if equipped)

Repairs or replacement of steering wheel components requires that you remove the airbag and steering wheel first. When you remove the driver airbag, it is important you disconnect the battery and wait at least 10 minutes for the system to power down. Once the airbag is removed, store it in a safe place facing up. Do not connect the vehicle battery while the airbag is removed. Fault codes will be set if you do so. If you do not have the ability to clear fault codes, you will be stuck with a warning lamp until you can have it cleared. 

The steering wheel multi-function switches, the clock spring and the steering angle sensor can be replaced once the driver airbag and steering wheel are removed. The steering wheel also has to be removed to replace the steering column switch cluster and the upper steering column trim panels.

There are two switches located on the sides of the steering column, below the steering wheel: one is responsible for operating the windshield wipers and washers; the other operates turn signals and the headlight dimmer. If one of these switches fails, the good news is that each one can be serviced individually.

The clock spring is a ribbon of flat springy wire used to connect electrical circuits through the steering wheel, for example, the horn, driver airbag and multi-function switches on the steering wheel. If the clock spring fails, it usually leaves you with a fault code for the driver airbag. If you suspect your clock spring is responsible for fault codes, especially an airbag fault code, have it professionally diagnosed. Once you are sure of the problem, replace the parts yourself. Once you replace the clock spring or the turn signal switches, you will have to program them using a BMW scan tool. This may require a trip to a BMW shop, if you cannot perform this task yourself. Not to worry, you can still save yourself some money replacing the parts yourself, then having the programming performed.

In this tech article I will go over how to replace the steering column switches and the clock spring on BMW Z3 vehicles.

To avoid marring the trim if you need to pry anything, work with a plastic prying tool or wrap a screwdriver tip with masking tape before prying out trim panels, switches or electrical accessories.

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches. 

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If you are working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Do not work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability. 

Vehicle models change and evolve, as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

Remove the driver airbag and steering wheel. See our tech article on steering wheel removing.

Loosen the upper steering column trim Phillips head screw (green arrow).
Figure 1

Loosen the upper steering column trim Phillips head screw (green arrow). Then pull the screw and expanding anchor out of the trim panel. Then pull the trim panel straight up to remove. Turn Signal Switch

Squeeze both locking tabs, then pull turn signal switch straight out of steering column mount.
Figure 2

Turn Signal Switch: Squeeze both locking tabs, then pull turn signal switch straight out of steering column mount.

Working at the bottom of the steering column, peel back the felt tape (yellow arrow).
Figure 3

Working at the bottom of the steering column, peel back the felt tape (yellow arrow). Then cut all of the zip tie straps and remove them (green arrows).

Pull the electrical connector junction (green arrow) off the steering column (yellow arrow).
Figure 4

Pull the electrical connector junction (green arrow) off the steering column (yellow arrow).

Located the electrical connector for the turn signal switch by following the wires to the connector junction.
Figure 5

Located the electrical connector for the turn signal switch by following the wires to the connector junction. Then squeeze the locking tabs and pull the electrical connector apart. Install new switch in reverse order of removing. Remember to route wire just as it was before, replace the zip tie straps and felt tape. 

Push the cloth trim away from the steering column.
Figure 6

Cruise and Wiper Switches: The cruise switch has to be removed to get the wiper switch wiring out, so I am lumping these two together.Push the cloth trim away from the steering column.

Squeeze the wiper switch locking tabs, then pull the switch straight out of steering column mount.
Figure 7

Squeeze the wiper switch locking tabs, then pull the switch straight out of steering column mount. Lay the switch aside for now.

Press the cruise switch locking tab, then pull the switch straight out of steering column mount.
Figure 8

Press the cruise switch locking tab, then pull the switch straight out of steering column mount.

Working at the bottom of the steering column, peel back the felt tape (yellow arrow).
Figure 9

Working at the bottom of the steering column, peel back the felt tape (yellow arrow). Then cut all of the zip tie straps and remove them (green arrows).

Pull the electrical connector junction (green arrow) off the steering column (yellow arrow).
Figure 10

Pull the electrical connector junction (green arrow) off the steering column (yellow arrow).

Located the electrical connector for the wiper switch by following the wires to the connector junction.
Figure 11

Located the electrical connector for the wiper switch by following the wires to the connector junction. Then squeeze the locking tabs and pull the electrical connector apart.

Located the electrical connector for the cruise switch by following the wires to the connector junction.
Figure 12

Located the electrical connector for the cruise switch by following the wires to the connector junction. Then squeeze the locking tabs and pull the electrical connector apart.


Install new switch(es) in reverse order of removing. Remember to route wire just as it was before, replace the zip tie straps and felt tape.

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Page last updated: Sun 12/11/2016 02:06:51 AM