Steering wheel radio controls, horn not working

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  #1  
Old 03-13-04, 10:48 AM
daveblan
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Steering wheel radio controls, horn not working

Chry. 2001 Town&Country minivan 3.8l V6 Auto AWD 48K miles. I bought my wife this minivan @ 4 months ago, everything worked fine till about 2 weeks ago. It has all the electronic options, power everything. One of the features is radio controls on the steering wheel. In addition to these controls not working, neither is the horn. Also the airbag light remains on after the start up time. The cruise control is not working either. In short all the steering wheel functions are not working. Turn signals are ok, as well as WWashers. I have checked all the fuses, removed the plastic covers and checked for worn wires or a short. All the connectors seem good. Any suggestions as to what to check next. I dont know how to check relays or if there are any that might affect these problems.
 
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  #2  
Old 03-13-04, 12:06 PM
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Long Island, NY
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Sounds like the clock spring (spiral cable) is NG.

Used on Air bar cars to connect the steering wheel to column.

Not quite sure if air bag problems are DIY item
 
  #3  
Old 03-13-04, 01:52 PM
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clock spring?

Larry what is this clock spring?Co all cars with air bags have them?Does my 2003 Toyota Matrix have one?Thanks
 
  #4  
Old 03-13-04, 01:53 PM
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Toyataman is right on with the clockspring and as he said, it is VERY dangerous to mess with an air bag. One small wire contact and you have a bomb going off in your lap.
 
  #5  
Old 03-13-04, 02:15 PM
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Clock spring is a ribbon cable that is coiled up and resembles a "clock spring" in a watch.

Pre air bag steering wheels relied on brush type contacts against a plate on the steering wheel or variation of for the horn, cruise etc. With Air bags they need a constant electrical connection. So the ribbon cable is used. They add extra wires in the ribbon to handle cruise, radio etc. besides air bag.

I don't know of any airbag cars that don't have them for the steering wheel
 
  #6  
Old 03-13-04, 05:08 PM
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Thanks Larry

Thanks Larry I learned something new at my old age.
 
  #7  
Old 03-13-04, 06:05 PM
mike from nj
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without seeing the vehicle, your description is of a bad clockspring. i haven't seen too many go bad on the newer ones(2001-present), maybe like one or two.

the job isn't as unsafe as everyone makes it to be. as you unplug the airbag connectors (two ignitors), a shorting bar connects both terminals together, making it so any stray voltage (static) is dissipated to ground and it can't go off.


if you're interested in doing it yourself, i'll tell you what to do. the only uncommon hand tool you will need is a steering wheel puller. it's actually pretty easy to do.

if the car was ever in an accident, that deployed the airbags, it wouldn't be the first body shop i've seen to NOT replace the clockspring. it usually is a mandatory replacement part, but who really reads the factory service manual? i had one car come in for a clockspring recall, with the light off, the guy just bought it. not only was the airbag hollow, but the clockspring was missing and the bulb was pulled from the dash. it didn't take much to see it was in a front end collision(very shoddy work)

look for VIN#s stamped on the edge of the fenders where they meet the hood(white label), you need to open the hood to see them. also look for the emissions label on the hood, or paint overspray on the windshield moldings


let us know
 
  #8  
Old 03-13-04, 09:30 PM
Auto Doc
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Larry hit it on the nose...

The cruise control, air bag, horn and radio controls are all wired through the clockspring. If the clockspring is broken, the SRS system will set an Open Circuit DTC thus explaining the Air Bag light. The radio controls are tied in through the BCM (Body Control Module) which has nothing to do with the cruise control as its signal goes directly to the PCM. As for the horn, well... the wires goe through the clockspring to the... uh... horn. So, in conclusion, unless you have a bad BCM, PCM, CCD data bus and horn... you need to replace the clockspring.

Note: If you intend to replace the clockspring yourself, disconnect the battery and wait at least a half an hour before attempting any repair on the SRS system. Almost all SRS systems will hold enough voltage to deploy the airbag even with the battery disconnected. This is a safety feature in case of power-loss during a collision. Let the voltage dissipate... 30 minutes should be more than adequate. Better safe than beat to hell by an airbag...
 

Last edited by Auto Doc; 03-14-04 at 11:00 AM.
  #9  
Old 03-13-04, 11:07 PM
mike from nj
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Originally posted by Auto Doc
The cruise control, air bag, horn and radio controls are all wired through the clockspring. If the clockspring is broken, the SRS system will set an Open Circuit DTC thus explaining the Air Bag light. The radio controls are tied in through the BCM (Body Control Module) which has nothing to do with the cruise control as its signal goes directly to the PCM. As for the horn, well... the wires goe through the clockspring to the... uh... horn. So, in conclusion, unless you have a bad BCM, PCM, CCD data bus and horn... you need to replace the clockspring.

Note: If you intend to replace the clockspring yourself, disconnect the battery and wait at least a half an hour before attempting any repair on the SRS system. Almost all SRS systems will hold enough voltage to deploy the airbag even with the battery disconnected. This is a safety feature in case of power-loss during a collision. Let the voltage dissipate... 30 minutes should be more than adequate. Better safe than beat to hell by an airbag...
not that it matters any...but the horn is wired to the FCM(front control module) which then signals the IPM to activate the horn relay. so you can add all those to your list of things that didn't go bad at once. the airbag light will go off the second the problem is fixed, no need to reset codes.

all you need is to unplug the battery for 2 minutes, to sufficiently discharge the capacitors in the airbag system. (i won't even mention that i regularly replace clocksprings (recall) with the car running)
 
  #10  
Old 03-14-04, 03:21 AM
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I really think you guys are making a mistake in advising a DIY to repair an SRS system. Most all of the forums have a rule forbidding that. I don't know about this one.
 
  #11  
Old 03-14-04, 09:59 AM
mike from nj
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Originally posted by mike from nj



if you're interested in doing it yourself, i'll tell you what to do.

i understand your concern for safety, but i think it's even safer to tell people how to do it properly, than to let them guess or worse...use a haynes manual.


if we ever hear from daveblan again, we'll know.
 
  #12  
Old 03-14-04, 10:08 AM
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I seen an air blow up on some one.

He's changing the air bag ECU, has the key on and using a impact driver to loosen the torx bolts. BAAAAAAMMMMM

I take air bags off at times without disconnecting anything (the above wasn't me). If I'm gong to test a system I remove the battery term.
 
  #13  
Old 03-14-04, 10:11 AM
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I agree with Desi on this.
These new air bags are touchy, it's safer to take it to someone who knows more about it.
 
  #14  
Old 03-14-04, 10:40 AM
Auto Doc
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I've yet to have an air bag deploy, and as Mike has said he repaired many clocksprings with the vehicle running, I too have serviced steering columns where in many cases I have never popped the hood, but there is always an exception to the rule. Redundant systems are the industry standards, and this is mainly for consumer protection. For such an impact that Larry had mentioned to cause the deployment of the air bag would almost have to mean that one of the discriminating or arming sensors had to have been faulty as well. The airbag should not have deployed by tripping one sensor, which would be quite reasonable considering the tech was using an impact driver. *But* then again, we're talking "theoretical" operation not real life application, and I have yet to find a car that follows theoretical operation guidelines to a "T". If these redundancies weren't implemented in the manufacture of SRS systems, everytime someone got cut off in traffic and slammed their fist against a dashboard, their next agenda would be phoning a wrecker for a tow to the dealership/body shop of their choice for air bag replacement. As far as recommending a DIYer repair anything on an SRS system, I would not recommend it unless you have experience with SRS systems. As most DIYers do not have this experience, I recommend taking the vehicle to a qualified professional. The only reason is because there could be something else wrong with the SRS system which could lead to accidental deployment.... better to pay a nominal fee to have a clockspring replaced than attempt the repair yourself only to have an accidental deployment which can cost a small fortune to repair.
 
  #15  
Old 03-14-04, 10:58 AM
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For such an impact that Larry had mentioned to cause the deployment of the air bag would almost have to mean that one of the discriminating or arming sensors had to have been faulty as well.
In that case there was nothing wrong with any of the other sensors. We do have systems where there is only one sensor.

One for example is a '96 Corolla, one sensor mounted on the hump by the firewall. My Mom miss judged pulling into a driveway and the trans pan caught the edge of the curb. 5-10 mph and blew the bag. Trans pushed back and hit crossmember thats right under the Air bag ECU. There is about 2" clearance between trans and crossmember.
 
  #16  
Old 03-14-04, 11:11 AM
Auto Doc
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Oh what a feeling.... Toyota... lol
 
  #17  
Old 03-15-04, 04:44 PM
daveblan
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Thanks to all. I am not sure if I will attempt this repair or not. I am not too worried about the air bag, I have worked with them before, having said that I will be extra careful having read all the advice. My biggest thing is finding time to do the work. My new job keeps me running, and the wife might not be willing to wait till I get around to it. Again, many thanks to this site, you all have helped me with many questions in the past year or so. I hope I can repay this board with any information I may have in the future. Dave B. Wellersburg PA.
 
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