Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Clock Spring

We have a 2001 Toyota Camry with 240,000 miles on it. At the last maintenance session, the dealer told us that the funny noise coming from the steering wheel is the “clock spring behind the steering wheel”. The dealer would be happy to replace it for us for only $430

I have replaced many, more expensive clock springs (spiral cable in Toyota terms), mostly under warranty or service contract for noise. Note that they don’t break just because they are noisy. For $430 I would turn up the radio one notch, after all it can’t be all that noisy.

I would just ignore it for now

I assume you asked them to look into the noise for you?

I’m not sure what your question is or if you have one, so I’ll just guess at what you’re wondering about.

The clockspring is the part that connects the airbag in the steering wheel to the rest of the system. If it malfunctions the airbag may not deploy when you need it to.

To replace it the steering wheel and part of the steering column needs to be disassembled.

The price quoted seems fair.

Toyota Camry’s are prone to steering rack clunk, so make sure that is not what you have. When I had a bad clock spring, my ABS light was on. If it is just a noise on a car with 240 K miles on it, I will just ignore it.

If it is just a noise on a car with 240 K miles on it, I will just ignore it.

I would too.

I’d ignore it until I was bored one day.
WARNING, unless you have the procedure to properly disarm the airbag, do NOT try to fix this yourself! Airbags can explode if not disarmed properly, and they can be very, very dangerous… and very, very expensive to replace. :astonished:

I had the same problem with my 2001 Camry at about 120K miles. Really annoying, but I figured that the replacement was likely to fail the same way anyhow. I lived with it for while. Then somebody broadsided the car a good lick and it became the insurance company’s problem.

I don’t know that it’s pertinent, but I had the steering wheel clunk with my 2004 Camry in 2009. There was a recall to replace a middle shaft (?). The dealer just did a “grease kit” on mine, and it’s been fine ever since.

$430 seems a reasonable price for the job. You don’t really need a dealership though. Dealerships aren’t even the best choice, since they are tooled up and trained to work on cars less than 5 years old, for warranty work. If you decide to have it replaced, you might can get an even lower bid from an inde shop. Even at $430 you’re talking short money here. That’s bargain basement prices in terms of normal car repair invoices these days.

Dealerships aren’t even the best choice, since they are tooled up and trained to work on cars less than 5 years old

What happens to the tools and the former training? The is no doubt that money can be saved by using an independent repair shop if they don’t mess up your car but why would the capabilities of a dealer diminish over time for a basic repair like this?

Depends on what the most recent training has been in relation to the vehicle’s design changes over time. An owner will get best results from a dealerhsip tech who has been recently trained on the design sported on the owners car. If there’s been no changes to the design of the function needing repair in 20 years, the current design is exactly the same as it was 20 years ago, then of course you are correct Nevada. But in that case a dealership would be unlikely to provide any better service than an inde shop would provide.

the same mountainbike: Excellent advise. I certainly don’t have the courage much less the knowledge to attempt a repair on an armed airbag!

Me neither. :smiley:
I don’t work on armed airbags and I won’t work on my natural gas boiler. Don’t want to go KABOOM!