The national cost for an air bag clockspring replacement in 2023 is between $178 and $519 with an average of $299​

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National average cost of a an Air Bag Clockspring Replacement
for popular vehicles:

Car Model

Avg. cost


What is an air bag clockspring and how does it work?

The air bag (or “airbag”) clockspring is a key component of the supplemental restraint system (SRS) in your vehicle. Sometimes called the “airbag system”, the SRS is a passive system to protect the occupants of a vehicle. The system is composed of many parts, the main components being an array of sensors to detect a collision, a control module, and several strategically-placed inflatable airbag modules.

One of those airbag modules is mounted in the driver’s steering wheel. Unlike other airbags that remain stationary in the vehicle, the driver’s airbag must be able to turn with the steering wheel. After all, it is mounted directly in the center of the wheel. The airbag clockspring is a mechanism that connects the driver’s airbag to the steering column. The device ensures that a constant electrical connection is maintained between the airbag module and the SRS control module.

The way the airbag clockspring does its job varies from one vehicle model to another. Some clocksprings contain a long series of small wires wound up in a spiral between a pair of plastic plates. When the steering wheel is turned, the wires wrap and unwrap in both directions. One end of the wires is connected to the airbag, and the other end is connected to the SRS wiring harness in the steering column. Another type of clockspring relies on electrical contacts rather than internal wires. In either case, the clockspring is located ahead of the steering wheel at the head of the steering column.


How do I know if my vehicle needs a new airbag clockspring?

The clockspring serves other purposes as well. For instance, since it is responsible for keeping the airbag wiring in constant contact with the rest of the SRS, it can also do so with other electrical connections, such as the horn, audio system, cruise control, or other features. When the clockspring goes bad, often as a result of a worn or broken wire or poor contacts inside, any one of the functions it serves might no longer be operational from the steering wheel controls.

Your airbag clockspring might be bad if you notice any one or more of the following signs:

The buttons on your steering wheel do not work (radio, information system, cruise control, etc.)

Your horn will not sound, or it works intermittently

You hear a strange sound coming from the steering column when you turn the wheel

You feel scraping, rubbing, or tension in the steering wheel

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How is a an Air Bag Clockspring Replacement done?

To replace the airbag clockspring in a vehicle, a technician must first disconnect the battery to disarm the SRS (taking care to preserve sensitive computer memory). From there, the balance of the procedure is done inside the vehicle. Other steps a technician will take include:

  • Remove the fasteners that hold the airbag in place
  • Carefully separate the airbag from the steering wheel and unplug the wires connected to it
  • Remove the large bolt holding the steering wheel in place and remove the steering wheel (this might require the use of a special puller)
  • Remove the upper and lower covers on the steering column for access to the clockspring and wiring
  • Remove lower dash components if necessary
  • Unplug the clockspring from the wiring harness and dislodge the wires
  • Unscrew the clockspring housing from the steering column and remove the clockspring
  • Screw the new clockspring in place, taking care to avoid removing the safety tab that prevents the mechanism from turning too soon
  • Connect the clockspring wires and replace the trim components that were removed
  • Replace the steering wheel in the same orientation as when it was removed and torque the fastener
  • Reinstall the airbag
  • Reset the SRS with a scan tool to introduce the new clockspring to the system and turn off the SRS light

Other questions customers ask

Do you have to replace the clockspring when replacing an airbag?
Most of the time, an airbag module is replaced because it has deployed in a crash. When that is the case, the clockspring should be replaced along with the airbag. Damage can occur to the clockspring when the airbag goes off. If the clockspring is not replaced, the SRS warning light might not reset.
Can you drive with a damaged clockspring?
In some cases, it might be possible to drive with a bad clockspring. However, oftentimes turning the steering wheel becomes difficult if significant physical damage has occurred. It is possible that you might not notice driveability problems at all, but some of the electronic features on your steering wheel might not work. Nevertheless, you should not drive with a bad airbag clockspring, since a short circuit can lead to other problems, and the clockspring is directly responsible for keeping your airbag armed.
What causes a clockspring to break?
Most of the time, unless your vehicle has been in a wreck and the airbags deployed, a clockspring goes bad because the wires inside become brittle and break. Inside most clocksprings is a long series of tiny wires coiled up. These wires wind and unwind as you turn the steering wheel. Over time, one or more of the wires might become work hardened and break.

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