An airbag clock spring is used to connect the steering wheel to other electrical devices such as the airbag safety system, radio volume and station selections, horn and cruise controls. This is done using a series of small wires wound between an upper and lower plate which is mounted between the steering column and the steering wheel. This part can go bad when these wires become fatigued and break causing a short or open circuit. If repairs are being done which involve the removal of the steering wheel and the clock spring and it is mistreated by over extending the internal wires it will also break the clock spring.
When this malfunction occurs it will cause the airbag warning light to come on and the system to shut down. Horn and radio controls will also quit working as for the cruise control as well. You might here an electrical sparking or see a small amount of smoke indicating a short circuit has occurred between the steer wheel and column. A bad clock spring can also intermittently blow fuses as the car is driven.
Since the clock spring is responsible for two safety devices including the horn and airbag safety system it is highly advised to replace the clock spring with a new unit as soon as possible.
Here is a clock spring getting removed along with a turn signal switch replacement.
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