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DontTellMeAboutCajun 09-25-2009 06:02 PM

TJ airbag light on and horn not working, clockspring

Since I encountered some difficulty when searching for a diagnosis, I thought I'd post this for future seekers. If your TJ's airbag light begins to flicker on and off over the course of a few weeks then stays on constant...listen up! Shortly thereafter, your horn will stop working. A faulty airbag clockspring is to blame, and its an easy fix! I sourced one through Ebay, approximately $129 with shipping (brand-new). Here's how to do it:

*Tools needed! 8mm socket, 13/16" socket, steering wheel puller kit.*

***Do not turn the steering wheel at any time during this process!!!***

- ***UNPLUG YOUR NEGATIVE BATTERY CABLE!!!*** Allow AT LEAST 2 minutes to lapse before resuming work; your airbag will de-arm during this period.

- ***ENSURE THE STEERING WHEEL IS STRAIGHT, AND TIRES ARE POINTED STRAIGHT AHEAD!!!*** This is crucial, so don't skip this step! On the backside of the steering wheel, there are two 8mm bolts holding the airbag/horn assembly on. Remove them, and your airbag/horn assembly will come loose.

- There are two wires plugged into the airbag. The one plugged directly into the middle simply pulls out of the unit with a firm tug. The other is a blade-type connector, pull them apart. Carry the assembly pointed away from you, and set it down with the trim side facing up.

- Remove the steering wheel retaining nut with the 13/16" socket.

- Attach the steering wheel puller, and remove the steering wheel. I thought I needed a ducks-foot type puller, but an H type puller is what is needed! I rented the kit from Advanced Auto, $20.

- You are now looking at the airbag clockspring. Look at the new unit, do you see the plastic clips which will hold it in place once installed? The old unit has them also. I jerked hard on the old unit and they both broke off, falling into the steering column cover. Once they are broken, the unit will slide off the shaft with some tugging, just try not to turn the shaft!

- Install the new clockspring in EXACTLY the same position that the old one was removed. Push firmly so the new unit locks into place. Use care, there are plastic splines in the inner part of the unit that must fall into grooves cut into the steering wheel shaft.

- Once installed, break the plastic retainer holding the white wheel thingy off of the clockspring. It's now time to reassemble, but there is one catch! That plastic retainer you broke off the new unit was holding that white wheel thingy from turning....see how the wheel is shaped kind of like an H? Look on the back of your steering wheel, and you'll see that the white wheel thingy and the steering wheel fit together. When putting the steering wheel back on, line up the white wheel with that spot on the back of the steering wheel. Then re-assemble the whole mess in reverse order!

It took me about 1 1/2 hours to do all this, only because I was taking my sweet time :) I've never worked on any airbag module or system before, so I was a bit leery...but this is truly straight-forward and easy to repair on your own. You don't wanna know how much the stealership quoted me to fix this! Just take your time, and soon you'll have an airbag light that stays off, and a horn that works again. :punk:

Jerry Bransford 09-25-2009 06:11 PM

Nice writeup, thanks, that's something I'll refer to if/when my clockspring craps out. Luckily mine has been ok so far all these years.

advancedjosh 11-22-2010 09:29 PM

pain in the arse
ok so i recently i was trying to fix my gear box and i had spun around the wheel quite a few times and then fixxed the issue and have been driving fine and i went out wheeling a little the other day and bam airbag light! then cruise went out today and horn is intermittent. what do u think could have caused the closkspring to just crap out? and is there a way to check it?

txhotrod 04-02-2011 01:12 PM

The clockspring has a limited number of turns each way befoe it snaps, you just turned it too many times the wrong way!

first4x4 09-02-2011 09:24 AM

This just happened to my 1997 Jeep, I've only had a couple months now. Thanks a million for your post; very informative. I actually heard the snap and had no idea it was tied to the horn as well, I only noticed the airbag light did not go off.

adh826 11-23-2011 01:21 PM

I just bought my 1998 TJ a few months ago and the horn doesn't work and the airbag light is on. However, the cruise control does work fine. Does this mean that my clock spring could be ok and there is another issue perhaps with the airbag? Is there a test I can perform to determine which parts have failed?

dhussey 05-03-2012 03:07 PM

Did you ever find out the problem? My horn won't work and airbag light is on as well, but my cruise works fine.

Patrick H 05-03-2012 04:31 PM


Originally Posted by dhussey (Post 2331678)
Did you ever find out the problem? My horn won't work and airbag light is on as well, but my cruise works fine.

It's the clock spring. Not every circuit in them always breaks. For instance, on mine, the cruise didn't work, but everything else was fine. Then one day, the air bag light started coming on when I turned the steering wheel to the left..;)

asmithey 07-14-2012 02:47 PM

My horn is not working and the airbag light is on as well. Also, my washer fluid does not dispense either. The pump makes no sound. Could the washer pump not working also be from the clock spring breaking?

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