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Steering Column and Steering Angle Sensor Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Steering Column and Steering Angle Sensor Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

5 hours5 hrs

Tab:

$600

Talent:

*****

Tools:

13, 16mm sockets, snap ring pliers

Applicable Models:

BMW Z4 Convertible (2003-06)
BMW Z4 Coupe (2006)

Parts Required:

Steering column, steering angle sensor, angle sensor bushings

Hot Tip:

Use a thin T20 Torx driver when releasing airbag spring

Performance Gain:

Repair faulty column

Complementary Modification:

Replace steering wheel with upgraded model

The steering system used in BMW Z4 is known as power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering. Rotating the steering wheel spins a small pinion gear, thus sliding a toothed rack left or right. The ends of the rack attach to tie-rods which steer the front wheels. A hydraulic pump, powered by the engine accessory belt, forces steering fluid into hoses leading to pistons in the steering rack. A hydraulic valve in the steering rack varies the hydraulic fluid pressure in the two cylinders, dependent on how fast or forcefully the pinion gear is rotated. This multiplies the driver's force in steering the wheels.

The steering column connects the steering wheel to the steering rack. It has bearings and joints that can fail. Causing grinding or rattle sounds. If you suspect the steering column is making noise, detach the steering shaft. Then check if the noise is still present. If so, confirm the noise is not from the clock spring, if not the issue is likely the column.

The steering angle sensor is mounted to the base of the steering shaft, near the firewall. It is responsible for sending steering wheel rotation data to the ABS / DSC control module. This sensor can fail, setting off an ABS/ DSC fault code. The column has to be removed to replace this sensor. Once replaced, the sensor will have to be adapted using an advanced BMW scan tool.

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 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. Questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

Make sure your steering wheel is centered and the front wheels are pointing straight ahead.

Disconnect the negative battery cable. See our tech article on battery replacing and reconnecting for notes.

The steering column connects the steering wheel (red arrow) to the steering rack.
Figure 1

The steering column connects the steering wheel (red arrow) to the steering rack. It has bearings and joints that can fail. Causing grinding or rattle sounds. If you suspect the steering column is making noise, detach the steering shaft. Then check if the noise is still present. If so, confirm the noise is not from the clock spring, if not the issue is likely the column.

Working in the engine compartment below the brake booster at the top of the steering shaft, remove the E10 External Torx fastener (red arrows).
Figure 2

Working in the engine compartment below the brake booster at the top of the steering shaft, remove the E10 External Torx fastener (red arrows).

This photo shows the fastener being removed (red arrow).
Figure 3

This photo shows the fastener being removed (red arrow). Inset shows the fastener with thread locking compound from the factory. If reusing the fasteners, be sure to use new thread locker of the same color.

Then, remove the steering shaft coupler from the steering wheel shaft at the top by sliding it down and off (blue arrow).
Figure 4

Then, remove the steering shaft coupler from the steering wheel shaft at the top by sliding it down and off (blue arrow). If it will not come off but slides a little, lever it off using a prybar. Be gentle, don't damage it. Later, when reinstalling the steering shaft, be sure to align the split in the shaft coupler (purple arrow) with the plastic tab (red arrow) on the rack. This will properly align the two.

Remove the steering wheel and steering column switch assembly (red arrow).
Figure 5

Remove the steering wheel and steering column switch assembly (red arrow). Remove the lower dashboard trim panel. See our tech articles for the procedures to remove them.

Working below the steering column above the brake pedal, unclip and detach the wiring harness from the steering column (red arrow).
Figure 6

Working below the steering column above the brake pedal, unclip and detach the wiring harness from the steering column (red arrow).

Working at the base of the steering column, remove the four 13mm fasteners (red arrows).
Figure 7

Working at the base of the steering column, remove the four 13mm fasteners (red arrows). The fasteners are in front of and behind the steering angle sensor (blue arrow).

Working at the center of the steering column, remove the four 13mm fasteners (red arrows).
Figure 8

Working at the center of the steering column, remove the four 13mm fasteners (red arrows). Support the steering column as you remove the last fastener, as it may fall out.

Remove the steering column by sliding it up and out the hole in the instrument panel (red arrow).
Figure 9

Remove the steering column by sliding it up and out the hole in the instrument panel (red arrow). Be sure the steering angle sensor electrical connector is disconnected as you slide it out (blue arrows). Check for snagged wiring or harnesses as you remove the column. Avoid rotating the steering column or drive wheels once the column is removed.

With the column removed, you can replace the steering angle sensor.
Figure 10

With the column removed, you can replace the steering angle sensor. Start by removing the snap ring (red arrows) at the base of the sensor.

Next, pull the locating tab straight out of the shaft end (blue arrows) do not damage this piece, it is made of plastic.
Figure 11

Next, pull the locating tab straight out of the shaft end (blue arrows) do not damage this piece, it is made of plastic. Use pliers if necessary, but work gently. Slide the plastic bushings off the column (red arrows). If needed, cut the bushings off. Sometimes they seize in place. You will be replacing these.

Push the small tab (red arrows) as you slide the sensor off the shaft.
Figure 12

Push the small tab (red arrows) as you slide the sensor off the shaft.

Remove the sensor from the steering column (red arrow).
Figure 13

Remove the sensor from the steering column (red arrow). Then, remove and replace the black plastic bushing (blue arrow). Reverse steps to install new sensor. Be sure bushings are properly seated. Then slide the sensor on the steering column shaft, use the locating pin to align it. Then snap it into place, install snap ring and plastic bushings. When installing the replacement column, install each of the four fasteners finger tight. Be sure the column is aligned and in place, then tighten. Reverse steps to reassemble steering column components. Clear fault codes and adapt steering angle sensor using an advanced BMW scan tool.

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Page last updated: Sat 12/3/2016 03:04:54 AM