Steering Column Wiring Harness: How to Install a Steering Column

The steering column wiring harness is an imperative part of how your vehicle works. Its primary function is to connect the wheel to the steering mechanism.

Additionally, it secures mounting for multiple components and manages energy dissipation if a collision occurs.

This guide explains everything about the steering column. You’ll learn how to recognize a failing column and install a new one. Furthermore, we provide detailed assembly instructions and a wiring guide!

What Are the Signs of a Failing or Bad Steering Column?

Caption: Car steering wheel repair

If the steering column starts failing, there are ways to recognize it. So, here are the signs of a bad component.

You Can’t Lock the Steering Tilt Feature

The tilt feature allows setting the wheel’s location and angle. Therefore, you have better comfort and easier operation. You activate the function so that the wheel moves around until it locks into position. So, that means it’s at an optimal angle and height for the driver.

If you don’t find the wheel is locking, that indicates a problem. Therefore, you should check the column and other parts inside it. 

You Hear Noise When Turning

Caption: Women driving a car

Does it seem like you hear the steering column when turning? It could be clunking, clicking, grinding, or squeaking. Furthermore, you might only hear it during more difficult steering endeavors. The more often you hear it, the sooner you should check it out. Otherwise, it could become a serious problem and even cause accidents.

The Wheel Won’t Return to the Original Position

You make a turn, and the wheel returns to the default position. So, that’s the way it works with vehicles. It’s a safety function of power steering. If it doesn’t work, that means something is wrong. A broken gear in the steering column could be the cause. Therefore, you should call a professional and handle the fix now.

Rough Operation of the Steering Wheel

Caption: Man driving a car

If you drive your car every day, you know when something is wrong. Did you notice something weird when operating the wheel? It could be that it’s difficult to turn. Perhaps it pops while turning, which indicates a steering column issue. Debris and dirt often cause gear blockages. Therefore, this might disrupt the wheel’s operation. It might not be a demanding fix but handle it now.

How Much It Costs to Replace a Steering Column?

Caption: The components of the car in a repair shop

The price of replacing a steering column varies. Therefore, you should consider two things – the components and the mechanics. If you go with the latter, make sure to get several quotes. That way, you can find a mechanic who offers the best balance of affordable price and quality.

Your car model and make will affect the total labor costs. The experts recommend this fix to cost anywhere from $500 to $1,500. If your car has a simple steering column design, the replacement will be cheaper. On the other hand, other components might make work harder. Cruise control, radio controls, and complex wiring can be in the way. They will require additional work, so the price will be higher.

For example, you can change the steering column for $675 on an older Dodge Caravan. The replacement on Honda Accord costs $800. On the other hand, you’ll need $850 for Honda Civic. If you need a steering column for Ford F-150, it will cost you over $1,000.

You can save some cash if you handle the fix. The estimated savings can be huge. That’s because you’ll only need to spend money on the equipment.

A Guide to Installing a Steering Column

Caption: Car steering column isolated on a white background

Does your aftermarket column need an installation? The setup isn’t hard, but it requires time and effort. Therefore, set aside an afternoon. Now, here are the steps to follow:

Remove the negative battery cable.

Be patient because you need to deactivate the airbag. So, give it about 20-30 minutes before continuing.

Disconnect the plastic connector trim and hush panels.

So, you’ll find the former under the steering column. On the other hand, look below the dash and find hush panels.

Take out the knee bolster.

You’ll find clips hold it in position below the column. So, remove them, and do the same with any screws. Additionally, take out the steel backing you now uncovered. You’ll need to remove bolts to do this.

Unlock the ignition.

Furthermore, point the front wheels ahead. If necessary, use the seatbelt to hold the steering wheel in place.

Take out the pinch bolt.

You’ll find it on the steering coupler as it connects the gear to the column. Make sure that the wheel remains in position after disconnect. Otherwise, you could risk ruining pricey components. You’ll probably need a new automotive wiring harness, too.

Disconnect column wires.

If you notice any on the steering column, remove them. Are there nuts that connect the dash to the column? You can remove these, too. Finally, you can take out the steering column from the car.

Insert the new column.

You want to tighten it to the dash and position it inside the coupler. Additionally, point the column’s wheel ahead.

Tighten the pinch bolt and reconnect the cables.

Once you finish, position the knee bolster and steel backing into place. Insert the hush panels and any trim.

Return the battery.

This is the final step, so get ready for testing. Make sure everything works before going on the road.

How to Assemble a Steering Column?

Caption: A 3D illustration of the steering column

You should assemble a steering column before installing it in the vehicle. Therefore, we’ll detail the instructions below.

Steering Column Wiring Harness–Turn signal lever.

You should place it in the column’s left-side hole. Next, connect it to the white mechanism with the offered screw. On the other hand, you shouldn’t overtighten it.

Steering Column Wiring Harness–Tilt lever and flasher knob.

This should be a simple task. So, find a small hole on the column’s right side. Thread the flasher knob onto it. Next, find the left-side hole and mount a tilt lever.

Steering Column Wiring Harness–Shifter arm.

Find the shift arm spring and apply grease to it. Now, insert it into the spring hole. However, please note a screwdriver might be necessary. Next, move the column’s collar by twisting it. Furthermore, twist it until the gear indicator comes into the Neutral position. While you push the shift arm inside, you’ll notice the spring goes deeper into the hole. Finally, align the lever’s hole with the column’s one. Next, insert the lever pin to connect the holes. Use a hammer if it’s necessary to push the pin until the hole is flush.

Steering Column Wiring Harness–Steering wheel.

The first thing to check is whether there is a compression spring below the canceling cam. Now, you want to place the horn connection. So, you want it at the angle between 10 and 11 o’clock. You’ll find a metal spacer below the steering wheel and above the black horn canceling cam. Place the adapter or the steering wheel onto the shaft of the splined column. Thread it on the column shaft screw nut. Finally, tighten it until you find an optimal setting.

Will replacing the steer column stop signals from working? If you don’t handle it properly, yes. So, make sure to follow the instructions to ensure everything works right.

A Wiring Guide for the Steering Columns

Caption: Steering column and wheel on a loader

There’s no need to be afraid of wiring if you know what you are doing. Your car might require a custom cable assembly, so get one if necessary. 

So, we’ll cover all wires for the steering columns below. Before we do that, here are the two major components to consider:

  • Standard Turn Signal Switch. General Motors uses the same switch type for over two decades. The changes between types are minor, so there shouldn’t be major differences. 
  • Connector Plugs. These depend on your application. Therefore, you might need 3 7/8” plugs. On the other hand, you could use bigger or smaller. The plug’s bottom has letters. So, each letter corresponds to a particular wire. Therefore, this is the guide to use when wiring steering columns.

Now, let’s check the different wires:

  • White. You connect it to terminal P on the harness plug. It serves as the brake light feed. Therefore, the cornering lights and turn signals can work even if you are braking.
  • Green. So, find the N letter on the plug and connect green wires to it. Thanks to that, the right rear turn signal and brake will work.
  • Yellow. This one gives power to the left rear turn signal and brake lights. Therefore, you connect it to the M terminal.
  • Purple. It goes to terminal L on the plug. Furthermore, it’s important to send power to the turn signal switch. If you don’t have a fuse panel, hook it up to a switched lead.
  • Brown. So, this wire goes into the K terminal. That will ensure the four-way flasher works.
  • Dark blue. You have two blue wires, so pay attention to their tones. Therefore, connect the dark blue one to terminal J. You send power to the right front turn signal and auto indicator light.
  • Light blue. This one gives power to the left front turn signal and indicators. You connect it to the H terminal, so don’t mix it up with the dark blue wire.
  • Black. Find terminal G and connect the black wire. That will ground the horn, but it doesn’t send power. Make sure not to feed the power to this wire. Otherwise, you could face issues that require spare parts.

Conclusion

We hope you now understand the steering column wiring harness. If you have a quick question or need cable assembly assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Hey, I am John, General manager of Cloom and OurPCB.

I am a responsible, intelligent and experienced business professional with an extensive background in the electronics industry.

Reach me at sales@wiringo.com to get a quote for your projects.

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