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Steering Column Switch Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Steering Column Switch Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$750

Talent:

*****

Tools:

Flathead screwdriver, trim panel tool, T20 Torx driver

Applicable Models:

BMW 525i/xi Sedan (2004-07)
BMW 528i/xi Sedan (2008-10)
BMW 530i/xi Sedan (2004-07)
BMW 530xi Wagon (2006-07)
BMW 535i/xi Sedan (2008-10)
BMW 535xi Wagon (2008)
BMW 545i Sedan (2004-05)
BMW 550i Sedan (2006-10)

Parts Required:

Clock spring, turn signal / wiper switch

Hot Tip:

Always disconnect battery before working on your electrical system

Performance Gain:

Repair faulty switches or clock spring

Complementary Modification:

Steering column trim panels also covered in this tech article

At the steering column are controls for options on your BMW. You can operate the turn signals, wipers and cruise control via the steering wheel switches. The switches are all mounted to a central control module that bolts to the steering column. Each switch is serviceable as is the module (SZL).

The steering column switch assembly includes the cluster of switches mounted at the top of the steering column underneath the steering wheel, the clock spring and the control module known as SZL. The switches are responsible for operating wipers and washers, turn signals, headlight dimmers and cruise control. The clock spring is a spring-wound ribbon of wire used to connect electrical circuits through the steering wheel, examples of these circuits include: horn, driver airbag and multi-function switches on the steering wheel.

The SZL is usually the culprit when there is a malfunction in the switches.

When the clock spring fails, it usually leaves a fault code for the driver airbag. If you suspect your clock spring is responsible for a fault code, especially an airbag fault code, have it professionally diagnosed.

If you decide to replace the SZL or clock spring yourself, remember that the new units will need to be programmed using an advanced BMW scan tool. This may require a trip to a BMW work shop. Not to worry, you can still save yourself some money replacing the parts yourself, then having the programming performed. When replacing a stalk switch, you will not have to program it.

In this tech article, I will go over how to replace the steering column switches, the SZL and the clock spring on BMW E60 vehicles.

Remember that your car may have been serviced before and had parts 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're 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. Never work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Our vehicle may vary slightly from yours as models do change and evolve as they grow older. 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.

Release the steering wheel position adjuster. Then move the steering wheel all the way forward and as low as it will go.

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

Once the steering wheel is removed, be careful not to rotate the clock spring.
Figure 1

Once the steering wheel is removed, be careful not to rotate the clock spring. There is a small plastic lock (red arrow) that helps to keep the clock spring centered. However, do not rely on this to protect the clock spring. The green arrows point to the steering column switches.

Pull the steering column trim cover off the steering column toward the rear of the vehicle.
Figure 2

Pull the steering column trim cover off the steering column toward the rear of the vehicle.

Working at the bottom of the steering column trim panel, remove the plastic Phillips head screw.
Figure 3

Working at the bottom of the steering column trim panel, remove the plastic Phillips head screw. Then remove the plastic anchor it screws into. Lever the anchor out using a small flathead screwdriver.

Working at the top of the steering column trim panel, lever the flexible trim (red arrow) off the steering column upward, using a plastic prying tool.
Figure 4

Working at the top of the steering column trim panel, lever the flexible trim (red arrow) off the steering column upward, using a plastic prying tool. Then, remove the two plastic Phillips head screws (green arrows). Then remove the plastic anchor they screw into. Lever the anchor out using a small flathead screwdriver (inset shows screw with anchor).

Remove the three T20 Torx fasteners (red arrows).
Figure 5

Remove the three T20 Torx fasteners (red arrows). You can wait to remove these until later. However, I find it easier to remove the steering column covers with the SZL loose.

Then lift the upper steering column trim cover to detach it from the steering column.
Figure 6

Then lift the upper steering column trim cover to detach it from the steering column. You may have to lever the top and bottom covers apart. Be careful not to damage or scratch them. Once the top cover is removed, remove the lower cover.

Pull the SZL assembly forward and remove it from the steering column and access the electrical connectors.
Figure 7

Pull the SZL assembly forward and remove it from the steering column and access the electrical connectors. Press the release tab to disconnect the left side connector (red arrow). Then slide it forward a little more to disconnect the lower connector (green arrow).

Place the SZL on a work bench.
Figure 8

Place the SZL on a work bench. Working at the front of the turn signal switch, remove the six T10 Torx screws (red arrows). Then lift each switch to remove it from the SZL (inset).

To separate the switch from the clock spring, release the retaining tabs (red arrows) using a flathead screwdriver.
Figure 9

To separate the switch from the clock spring, release the retaining tabs (red arrows) using a flathead screwdriver. There are two tabs, one on top of the clock spring and one on the bottom. Once released, lift the clock spring off the switch assembly. The SZL (green arrow) is now separated from the other components and can be swapped out.

To install a new clock spring, slide it onto the switch assembly and snap it into place.
Figure 10

To install a new clock spring, slide it onto the switch assembly and snap it into place. To install the switch assembly slide it onto the SZL and install the fasteners. Install the trim pieces in the reverse order of removal. Then install the steering wheel and airbag. Check the operation of the switches and the fit of the trim panel. If the top and bottom panels are not flush with the switches (red arrow), realign them until they are. Have the SZL and clock spring programmed at your local BMW mechanic/facility.



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Comments and Suggestions:
Kevin Comments: I have a 2008 535xi wagon and BMW dealership told me that I can't get just an szl sensor in this year and I have to replace the entire steering column. Can you tell me if this is true or not and inform me as to what parts I need.
November 5, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I am not sure, doesn't sound right.

I’m not the best with part numbers.


Give The Pelican Parts parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
alfonso Comments: hi, what is the violet connector figure 7
January 21, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't have a wiring diagram to be sure, but it could be data lines. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Fri 12/2/2016 02:37:52 AM