LOOSE TURN SIGNAL HOUSING


Q:

For years I have been having trouble with my turn signal housing. It’s loose on the steering column. I have tried everything I can think of to tighten it up, but it soon gets loose again. I have seen others that are loose as well, and no one seems to know how to fix the problem permanently. Can you come up with a permanent fix for this?


A:

The turn signal housing, located just under the steering wheel on the upper end of the steering column is difficult to tighten because it has stretched out of round, into an oval shape. Because it is oval in shape, the wedge that was intended to tighten it to the steering column does not have enough travel to fully tighten it. Fortunately, there is a relatively easy way to repair it. I will show how to modify the wedge in the turn signal housing so that it will fully tighten the housing, and it will stay tight.


First, disconnect the car battery. Now, remove the steering wheel with a suitable puller. The horn button is removed by simply prying up, usually with just the finger tips. Notice that it will only go back onto the retainer in one position. This position should be with the insignia facing up properly when viewed by the driver.


Using a screw driver, remove the three screws holding the horn contact. They may be Phillips head or Clutch head screws from the factory. Note that the horn contact has one long leg that contacts the spring loaded horn contact brush. The brush assembly fits into a round hole drilled in the steering wheel hub. You may remove the brush with its plastic holder, or you may leave it in place. Just don’t forget that it goes there, and needs to be installed when the steering wheel goes back on.


Next, using a ¾” socket wrench, remove the hex nut and flat washer that retains the steering wheel.


Note the position of the steering wheel hub in relation to the steering shaft it fits upon. Using a scribe or a small punch, make a mark on both the steering wheel hub and on the upper end of the steering shaft so you can put the steering wheel back on, in its original position.


Use a simple two-spoke puller that will employ two 5/16” X 18 cap screws that will be threaded into the steering wheel hub. A push screw will be used to push on the upper end of the steering shaft, pulling up on the two cap screws, and that force will cause the steering wheel hub to come straight up off of the splined shaft. There should be a coil spring circling the steering shaft, just under the steering wheel hub. That spring pushes up on the steering wheel hub, and it pushes down on the upper steering column bearing/horn track assembly located at the uppermost end of the column.


Pull the spring up, off of the steering shaft, and set it aside.


At this point, you will be able to look into the turn signal housing. You will see the mechanism that is used to operate the turn signals, and, if you look at the under side of the steering wheel hub that you have just removed, you will see the two pins that sweep clockwise and counter clockwise to cancel the switch after the turn has been completed. Protect these two pins from damage as they can be very hard to replace once broken off.


On the left side of the turn signal housing, note the turn signal lever. It should have a jam nut on it to secure the lever to the cancelling ring. Loosen that jam nut and unscrew the turn signal lever.


As you look into the turn signal housing, at the nine o’clock position, you will see a large screw with a straight slot for a screwdriver. Using a medium straight blade screwdriver, remove that screw.


NOTE: under that screw, which is actually a shoulder bolt, there should be a small split ring lock washer. Find that lock washer and keep it safe. You will need to remember to install it later when you reassemble the parts. That lock washer not only keeps the shoulder bolt from coming loose, it also positions the shoulder bolt up high enough so that the shoulder bolt doesn’t pinch the turn signal cancelling ring as it turns about the shoulder bolt. Without that split ring lock washer, the turn signal cancelling ring may bind up and not return properly when you come out of your turn and you expect the turn signals to cancel automatically. If you need one of those split ring lock washers, it is a NUMBER 12 lock washer, which in not the most common size.

   

Lift the turn signal ring up out of the housing. It will come out with several small parts attached to it. Set it aside.


Note at this time that there is a leaf spring on the left side of the housing, oriented vertically. Lift that leaf spring up and out of its cradle.


Just below the location where the leaf spring was situated, you will see the upper end of the wedge that is intended to tighten the turn signal housing to the mast jacket. (The mast jacket is the steering column tube) From the under side of the wedge, find the screw that tightens the wedge. It is just under the wedge and screws directly into the wedge from below. It is usually a Phillips headed screw.


Remove that screw from below, and lift the wedge up out of the housing using needle nose pliers or tweezers.


Look at the wedge. You will note that, on the under side of the wedge, where the screw enters the wedge, there is a little raised area that looks like a “U”.


Holding the wedge with a pair of vise grips, and using a bench grinder, grind all of that “U” off of the under side of the wedge. Don’t be afraid to remove all of the raised “U” shaped area, leaving that area flat. Remove any sharp edges from around the wedge that were created by the grinding.

By removing the metal as I have described, you have modified the wedge just enough so that it can be drawn down the little chute a little further by the screw. Because it can now move down the chute a little further, it will have the necessary travel to tighten the housing to the mast jacket. That little additional movement will tighten it up, and it will stay tight. 


Re install the wedge, leaf spring, turn signal cancelling ring, shoulder bolt with split ring lock washer, turn signal handle with jam nut, (don’t tighten the handle too far into the turn signal ring as it may contact the shoulder bolt and cause binding) coil spring, steering wheel and horn operating brush, horn contact and chrome plated button. Finally, connect the battery.


This sounds like a lot of work, but it shouldn’t take more than an hour or two to complete, and I believe you will be satisfied with the results.