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Steering Column Switch and Clock Spring Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Steering Column Switch and Clock Spring Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$750

Talent:

*****

Tools:

Phillips screwdriver, trim panel tool, T25 Torx driver

Applicable Models:

BMW X5 (2000-06)

Parts Required:

Clock spring, turn signal switch, wiper switch, steering wheel adjustment 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 module that bolts to the steering column. Each switch is serviceable as is the module.

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 is part of the central module that all the switches are mounted to. The switches are responsible for operating wipers and washers, turn signals, headlight dimmers and steering wheel adjustment. The clock spring is a spring-wound ribbon of wire used to connect electrical circuits through the steering wheel: the horn, driver airbag and multi-function switches on the steering wheel are some examples.

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 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 workshop. Not to worry, you can still save yourself some money replacing the parts yourself, than 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 and the clock spring on BMW E53 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.
Figure 1

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. There is a small plastic lock that helps to keep the clock spring centered. However, do not rely on this to protect the clock spring.

Working at the top of the steering column trim panel, remove the plastic Phillips head screw (red arrow).
Figure 2

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

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.

Using a plastic trim panel tool, separate the steering column trim by levering it apart.
Figure 4

Using a plastic trim panel tool, separate the steering column trim by levering it apart.

Once separated, remove the lower portion of the trim downward.
Figure 5

Once separated, remove the lower portion of the trim downward.

Working at the top of the steering column trim panel, lever the flexible trim (red arrow) off the steering column (green arrow) upward, using a plastic prying tool.
Figure 6

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

Then lift the upper steering column trim cover to detach it from the steering column.
Figure 7

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.

Remove the four T25 Torx fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 8

Remove the four T25 Torx fasteners (green arrows).

Pull the switch assembly forward and remove it from the steering column and access the electrical connectors.
Figure 9

Pull the switch assembly forward and remove it from the steering column and access the electrical connectors.

Working at the right side of the switch, disconnect the electrical connector by pressing the release tab (green arrow) and pulling the connector straight out.
Figure 10

Working at the right side of the switch, disconnect the electrical connector by pressing the release tab (green arrow) and pulling the connector straight out.

Working at the left side of the switch, disconnect the electrical connector by pressing the release tab (green arrow) and pulling the connector straight out.
Figure 11

Working at the left side of the switch, disconnect the electrical connector by pressing the release tab (green arrow) and pulling the connector straight out.

Pull the switch assembly forward more, and cut the zip tie holding the remaining harnesses together.
Figure 12

Pull the switch assembly forward more, and cut the zip tie holding the remaining harnesses together. Then disconnect the remaining electrical connectors by pressing the release tab and pulling the connector straight out.

To separate the switches from the clock spring, release the retaining tabs (green arrows) using a flathead screwdriver.
Figure 13

To separate the switches from the clock spring, release the retaining tabs (green arrows) using a flathead screwdriver. There are two tabs for each switch. Once released, lift the switch off the clock spring assembly. See the next step for the steering wheel adjustment switch as it slides out to the side.

To separate the steering wheel adjustment switch from the clock spring, release the retaining tab (green arrow) using a flathead screwdriver.
Figure 14

To separate the steering wheel adjustment switch from the clock spring, release the retaining tab (green arrow) using a flathead screwdriver. Once released, slide the switch off the clock spring assembly.

This photo shows all the switches removed from the clock spring.
Figure 15

This photo shows all the switches removed from the clock spring.

This photo shows all the switches installed on the clock spring.
Figure 16

This photo shows all the switches installed on the clock spring. When replacing, assemble new parts or transfer the old parts to the new clock spring. This step depends on what you are replacing. 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, realign them until they are. Have the clock spring programmed at your local BMW workshop.

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Comments and Suggestions:
alex Comments: What exactly needs to be programmed on a new clock spring? can electronics be transferred from old clock spring to new one to avoid reprogramming? or can this programming be done with DIS or INPA software? and if so do you have video showing this? Thanks
November 16, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It needs to be coded for the vehicle. You can't transfer electronics over.- Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Fri 12/9/2016 02:46:28 AM