Fixing a Broken Steering Wheel
Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated May 28, 2010)
Let's face it; if your steering wheel isn't in good working condition, you are not going anywhere. It can be pretty scary, and not to mention down right annoying if you find your steering wheel no longer works. Instead of paying someone else to fix it, why not fix your broken steering wheel yourself. Here are some simple guidelines that even a novice home mechanic can use to get their steering wheel working once again.
Ignition key won't turn:
This happens every so often when the steering lock mechanism binds up. Typically this happens when a car is parked with its wheels are jammed against curbs, usually repeatedly. This is a rather simple fix.
- Make sure your transmission is in park and that the parking brake is set. This is going to prevent the car from further settling against the curb.
- Turn the steering wheel in both directions, hard. This should free the wheel allowing the key to turn.
- If the key still won't turn, then try putting the transmission into neutral, releasing the parking brake, and letting up on your foot brake enough to allow the car to slightly rock. The key should now be able to turn freely.
If your steering column has been damaged in some way, then you will need to replace it.
- The first step is to find a replacement part which can be purchased at any salvage yard, eBay, or even at most auto dealerships. The cost might be between $35.00 and $75.00. Make sure the replacement column you purchase has keys (or it will cost you up to an additional $75.00 to replace the keys). You also need a copy of a repair manual, such as Chelton's, for your make and model of car.
- Disconnect the battery from the electrical system to prevent accidental electrocution or air bag deployment.
- Disconnect the wiring that is located at the top of the column. Keep an eye out for any other switches that might need to be disconnected. Locate the column retaining bolts. There will be two sets: one at the top of the column and one at the bottom.
- At the bottom of your steering column look for a part that looks like an accordion. This is called the flex coupling. Move it out of the way and remove the retaining bolt mentioned above. Make sure that you have completely removed it from the shaft prior to removing the steering column.
- Remove your old steering column and replace it with the new one. Install the new one by repeating the previous steps—but in reverse. Before you connect the battery though, you need to place your car key into the ignition and turn it to the "on" position. This will keep you safe if the airbag accidentally deploys when it receives an electrical current.