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      03-25-2017, 10:28 AM   #1
elerner61's Avatar

Drives: '07 Z4M Roadster
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Mount Kisco, NY

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ABS Airbag Light On-Cleaning Contacts

Finally getting around to posting my removal of the steering wheel airbag and cleaning the contacts. Here is a link to my original post that started my search (http://www.zpost.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1211452)

My symptoms were an ABS light that would come back after I cleared the code (using INPA) but would quickly come back when I would turn the steering wheel. In that link you can read that the code I was getting was intermittent and pointed to a high resistance issue. Cleaning the contacts for the airbag connectors and the clockspring connectors.

First and foremost, you must disconnect the battery on this one. In addition to the potential physical harm, you may cause other codes/issues if you don't.

To remove the airbag you need to insert a phillips screwdriver into each of the holes on the backside of the steering wheel housing at roughly the 2 and 10 o'clock positions. You'll be pressing a spring loaded clip (not unscrewing anything) to release a clamp on each side. You can do one side at a time and then ease off the bag slowly to reveal the connections. You can see the screwdriver inserted on the right side in the first two pictures below. There are two connectors for the airbag, to remove the green connector insert a small flathead screwdriver under the black piece on top and "pop" it up to unlock it. You can then remove the connector. Can't remember if the other connector has the same lock. Then remove the airbag and place aside. Look for another connector on the steering wheel that is for the audio/telephony connections and unclip that as well. Next, removing the steering wheel.

Before removing the steering wheel, use a sharpie/marker to mark top center on the bolt. I don't think I ever found a torque spec for this bolt and other steering wheel removal posts didn't make a big deal about tightening to a spec. Remove the steering wheel and set aside. Use the mark you made to re-tighten this bolt.

You'll next need to remove the upper and lower housing halves. There is a single, hidden from view, screw on the top to remove and I believe there is also a screw(s) on the bottom. Remove them all. The next step is what I spent the longest time on the whole project: freeing up the lock clips on the housing. There is one on the left and right sides near the wiper and directional stalks. Others have posted success with a wiggle technique to get these to release but that didn't work for me. After too much time spent, I inserted a very thin screwdriver to release one side, only to break that clip. After that, I could see how the clip released and I was able to release the other side without incident. With one clip broken the housing still re-assembled and holds tightly with no visible sign of only clip holding it and no rattles (and I hate rattles).

Once the housing is removed you then have access to many other electrical connectors supporting the steering wheel functions. A word of caution here is that the plastic that holds some of these other connectors (and maybe even a relay) in place to the clockspring mechanism is old. I tried to free one up and snapped a tiny leg off. I stopped after that and just disconnected all the connectors I could get my hands on.

Next step was to use CRC Quick Dry Electronic Spray and clean every connection I could. I sprayed what I could, let it dry and then connected and disconnected each one a couple of times. Then I think I repeated that process a second time. Working my way backwards I cleaned, reconnected and re-assembled everything I had removed going in. Once I had everything re-installed the last step was to clear the Airbag code, It will not clear itself after a problem source has been resolved like some codes.

Here are some pictures I took. It's been over a year and the problem has not re-appeared. Start to finish I think it took me one hour.
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