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Old 07-07-2008, 10:46 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Steering wheel spiral cable/clock spring tech

The FSM calls it the "spiral cable," but some people call it a "clock spring." I've never seen much info out there on this thing except for people having to replace it after breaking it, so I thought I'd put up the info I WISH I'd seen to PREVENT breaking it the first place...

If you do break it, RanchoToytrucks sells used ones for about $23 with the PBB discount.


This cable has the wires in it for the air bag, horn, and cruise control. 6 wires total. If its not centered when you re-attach your steering (like when doing a SAS or swapping out a steering box, etc.), then you will most likely break it when you steer it too far one way or the other. The factory manual doesn't have any info on how to install and center it. The info is on the cable itself UNDER the steering wheel, where you wouldn't know to look, and you can't center this thing very easily with the steering wheel attached anyway because the wheel is heavy enough that you can't "feel" when the cable binds until you've probably gone too far.


Step 1: Steer tires to center.

Step 2: Disconnect battery and wait at least 90 seconds before messing with the air bag.

Step 3: Loosen the T-30 Torx screws on each side of the air bag. They are captured and won't come all the way out.


Step 4: Unplug and remove air bag. Unplug cruise control/horn plug as well.


Step 5: Remove the 19mm nut and mark the steering wheel and shaft so that you can put it back on in the same spot it came off.


Step 6: Use a steering wheel or pulley puller to pull the steering wheel from the tapered shaft. This is part of a pulley puller kit from HF.


* At this point, if you need to replace the spiral cable, remove the cover from the steering column (3 screws), and then 4 small screws and a couple plugs removes the cable assembly.



Step 7: Center spiral cable:

It is a 5-turn cable, and most steering boxes are 4.5 turns or less. The instructions printed on the front read:

Quote:
[BEFORE INSTALLING]
1. Point front wheels straight ahead
2. Rotate 2.5 turns from left end
3. Align match marks (arrows)
If you play with it you can see/feel that it turns just about 5 whole turns, with each end leaving the it upside down. When centered, it ends up with the plugs up top and the arrows pointing at each other.

Once you have it centered, you can put everything back together in reverse order and you are good to go.
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Old 07-07-2008, 10:52 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Sometimes a broken cable can be repaired. Bruce TS has some info on how to disassemble and repair it in a Yotatech thread:
http://www.yotatech.com/f2/broken-wi...-column-89294/

Unfortunately for me, the cable pulled out of the molded connector and I wasn't able to fix it like he did.

Here is a pic of the cable assembly opened up. The cable is about 12 feet long when uncoiled.
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Old 07-07-2008, 11:05 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Great tech, Thanks!!
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Old 07-07-2008, 11:30 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I had to do that a while back, this would have been good to know in advance.

Easiest way to avoid it is just to tie the steering wheel in place to something stationary like a grab handle so that it can't get spun while you are working on it.
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Old 07-07-2008, 12:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
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How do you know if it's broken?

Does the airbag light come on?

I bungeed my steering wheel when I did my SAS, so I'm pretty sure mine is fine.
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Old 07-07-2008, 01:56 PM   #6 (permalink)
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yea the airbag light comes on and the horn doesnt work
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Old 07-07-2008, 02:31 PM   #7 (permalink)
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so it only affects the air bag/ horn? dose it affect anything else?
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Old 07-07-2008, 03:03 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Cruise control too, if you have it.

And it depends which wires break. In my case, the air bag wires were still intact (they are thicker), but my cruise control and horn quit working. The air bag wires broken will set off the light on the dash to let you know, but the CC and horn will simply quit working.

I knew there was a problem because I could hear the cable bind when I turned hard left, but I wasn't sure how to fix/center it and I was in a hurry for the Hammers trip and I let it go and it broke there.
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Old 07-07-2008, 09:23 PM   #9 (permalink)
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'Cable?' Interesting.

At Suzuki, Volvo, and now Toyota, it's been called a 'clock spring' in every dealership I've ever worked in.

Volvo did it right. Center wheels. Pull steering wheel. Remove a small torx screw from behind the airbag (no purpose but to sit there until you needed it for this) and screw it into the clock spring. There was a hole for it that locked the clock spring in place. The new clock spring came centered with the screw in it. Install the spring, remove the screw, replace the wheel & airbag, and drive.

Everyone else requires you to mark... count turns...and guess. This procedure is pretty much what we do at the Toy dealership when you bring your rig in.
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Old 07-07-2008, 09:29 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TNToy View Post
'Cable?' Interesting.

At Suzuki, Volvo, and now Toyota, it's been called a 'clock spring' in every dealership I've ever worked in.

Volvo did it right. Center wheels. Pull steering wheel. Remove a small torx screw from behind the airbag (no purpose but to sit there until you needed it for this) and screw it into the clock spring. There was a hole for it that locked the clock spring in place. The new clock spring came centered with the screw in it. Install the spring, remove the screw, replace the wheel & airbag, and drive.

Everyone else requires you to mark... count turns...and guess. This procedure is pretty much what we do at the Toy dealership when you bring your rig in.
uh, who are you?
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Old 07-07-2008, 09:41 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Nice writeup ErikB. Adding this to the FAQ right now.
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Old 07-09-2008, 11:18 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Good info Erik. So it's easy to feel the cable limits by turning the clockspring assembly without the weight of the wheel on there and that's how you determine the endpoint and go from there, correct?

Jay
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Old 07-09-2008, 11:27 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Im not sure if I broke this. I know when I replaced my entire shaft witha borgeson shaft I was having a hard time trying to get the slip coupling to aligned, with a little effort I got it in with a cracking sound. But it was in. It steers but steering wheel feels looser than normal.

Damn that sounds slutty.

Anyways, no warning lights are on.. hmmm
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Old 07-09-2008, 11:41 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Dang, that is some good air bag tech!!!

This is true to every car or truck out there with an air bag.

Just tie up the wheel, or remove the "clock spring" "spiral cable" whatever you want to call it.

Like Erik and I found out, there are a few split production date changes on these little bastards.
So if you do need one, give me or whomever you get one from the date your truck was built.
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Old 07-10-2008, 08:46 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TNToy View Post
'Cable?' Interesting.

At Suzuki, Volvo, and now Toyota, it's been called a 'clock spring' in every dealership I've ever worked in.
Like I said, that's what Toyota calls it in their manuals... so that's what I called it.

Besides, it IS a ribbon cable rolled into a spiral, not a clock or a spring, so I think Toyota's name is a lot more descriptive (useful) anyway.

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Good info Erik. So it's easy to feel the cable limits by turning the clockspring assembly without the weight of the wheel on there and that's how you determine the endpoint and go from there, correct?

Jay
Yep. Its easy to do, but apparently its one of those things you are just "supposed to know," since even the service manual doesn't mention it. So... that's why I posted.

My steering wheel was disconnected for several months while I was building my rig, the seats were out part of the time (nothing to tie the wheel to), and my son was in and out of there playing around, so it would have been tough to keep it centered. But if I'd known how to recenter it before I drove it I'd have been fine.

"... knowing is half the battle!"
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Old 07-14-2008, 02:25 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I should have known better, but in my hast to disassemble some steering parts I neglected to keep the shaft tied down. I should be able to recenter the unit before I reinstall the steering wheel....and save breaking the wires.

Thanks again Erik.
Jay
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Old 07-16-2008, 04:06 PM   #17 (permalink)
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great writeup, maybe this is why my cruise control stopped working? ive still got a 7 year/100k extended factory wanrranty, wonder if i drive it to the dealer, theyll fix it?? my truck only has 72k on it???
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Old 07-16-2008, 04:26 PM   #18 (permalink)
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great writeup, maybe this is why my cruise control stopped working? ive still got a 7 year/100k extended factory wanrranty, wonder if i drive it to the dealer, theyll fix it?? my truck only has 72k on it???
Just slip some stock wheels and tires on it and you should be good at the dealer
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Old 07-16-2008, 05:01 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Just slip some stock wheels and tires on it and you should be good at the dealer
Jay
LOL! maybe theyll work out the bugs on my half GM half toyota brakesystem too?
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Old 01-08-2009, 12:15 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Erik-

Just wanted to say thanks for the write up as I just finished fixing my clockspring just now. It is nice to have cruise control and a horn again.

Tim
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Old 01-08-2009, 08:18 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Old 01-08-2009, 10:23 AM   #22 (permalink)
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been there done that.....blew some major coin at the stealership when I trashed mine........cranking one the wheel to each side while doing the original SAS . Now anytime I have the steering gear disconnected I use my keen superhuman hearing to sense when that little beotch is tightening up close to the end of its travel.....

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Old 08-07-2009, 04:53 PM   #23 (permalink)
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help please

sorry guys but really need some help.
its a bit of a long story but ill try to keep it short.

so i brought a toyota starlet in april 3 weeks in i could hear a knocking noise. took it back to the garage and they had a look. it turned out to be the universal steering joint. so then i could hear a plasticy clicking sound as well. which the garage and toyota are saying is the sprial cable. I think the garage damaged it when they were taking apart my steering wheel to look at the uj. im not even sure if it is the sprial cable or something else because its got no symptoms apart from the clicking sound, but its what ive been told. The garage are telling me that they are not at fault. so my question is can it break without taking the steering apart??

i would be grateful for your help coz im the typical damsil in destress
thanks
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Old 08-07-2009, 08:25 PM   #24 (permalink)
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???.... led to a google of "toyota spiral cable"... this thread was 5th item down the list.


Ma'am... is your spiral cable broke: ie: you didn't state your problem with your car other than a 'clicking' sound?


If they disconnected the steering column shaft from your rack & pinion, YES, they can easily break the 'spiral cable' without taking the steering column apart. Ask me how I know (rhetorical question).


Oh yeah:

1. Welcome to Pirate

2. Since you identified yourself as a Damsel in distress; the natives will most likely ask for pictures of theyself; I am not opposed to such myself

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Old 08-11-2010, 01:34 PM   #25 (permalink)
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My airbag light in my 96 Tacoma stays on even when the truck is turned off and the keys out of the ignition. Everything was okay until I swapped out my dead battery for a Optima Blue top D34M. Wouldn't be a problem but I am trying to get my truck inspected in the near future.

Does anyone have any suggestions.
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