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Discussion Starter #1
I searched the forum and found instructions to remove airbag & steering wheel to replace clockspring (spiral cable). The airbag releases partially when the springs are engaged with a screwdriver, but it will not release fully from the steering wheel. Has anyone encountered this problem, and if so, were you able to solve it and remove the airbag?
Thanks!
 

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First off, DO NOT USE A SCREWDRIVER!!! Use a blunt ended tool like a 1/4 in. socket extension or a nut driver.

The airbag will only partially release from the retainers. You will need to pull GENTLY and SLOWLY from the top of the airbag with one hand while keeping the other hand on the face of the airbag.
Do not use excessive force or any object to pry the airbag off. You will damage the airbag if you do!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
There on 2 holes to release springs on each side of the airbag, but no access hole for the 3rd spring on bottom of the wheel. Service manual says release those 2 and pull upwards to release the lower pawl. The upper 2 pawls release but the lower one does not and it won't slide upwards. Anyone have experience with this?
 

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There is no pawl on the bottom like the sides have and why it simply pulls up, there is a simple hook effect going on there. Why there is no hole on the bottom.......

The best tool to get the pawls loose is a 3/8" round bar like a screwdriver shaft of the correct size with the end cut off it. A slot end is actually the worst tool you can use there, it will keep slipping off where the bar end can stay in place.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
There is no pawl on the bottom like the sides have and why it simply pulls up, there is a simple hook effect going on there. Why there is no hole on the bottom.......

The best tool to get the pawls loose is a 3/8" round bar like a screwdriver shaft of the correct size with the end cut off it. A slot end is actually the worst tool you can use there, it will keep slipping off where the bar end can stay in place.
I appreciate your assistance and suggestion about using a round bar. The Nissan service manual clearly shows a 3rd, lower pawl in the diagram and states the following instructions:
"4. Release the driver air bag module retaining clips RH/LH.
Insert suitable 4mm - 6mm blunt tool (A) through LH access hole on back side of steering wheel (1) and contact retaining clip.
Press tool inward with sufficient force on retaining clip (1) to release LH pawl of driver air bag module from steering wheel.
Repeat for RH pawl of driver air bag module from steering wheel.
Tilt top edge away from steering wheel, then lift upward releasing lower pawl of driver air bag module from steering wheel."
I've attached 2 photos of the drawings from the service manual. The left and right pawls are released, but it will not lift away from the steering wheel and upwards as instructed.
airbag 3 pawls.JPG
steering wheel closeup.JPG

There is no access hole to the lower release spring. I'm open to any suggestions to release the lower retaining clip (circled in red). I will try again tomorrow. I may attempt to reach inside with a wire or thin tool to release the lower retaining clip.
Thanks to all who have made suggestions!
 

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When they say lift upward, it is not up to the roof, it is up away from the steering wheel, or towards you..Pull out towards you and slightly down.
When you get the top part out, take the wire off at the inside left before completely removing.

When you pull the airbag off, do it gently with one hand on the front of the airbag.
If you use a lot of force, or don't have your hand in front of the bag, you can very easily damage the wire connectors for the airbag.
I thankfully learned that lesson on a car in a junkyard before I tried it on my car.
 

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My manual shows the same but it means nothing. What one has to grasp is that the bag is located sideways by the steering wheel cutouts (the button packages are in the way) and not located in the same way up, look again at your pics there. My 'there is no pawl' wording was incorrect but I stand by the rest, I got mine out easily. With the bigger tool I made than Nissan calls out for (I measured the pawl notches exactly to come up with the size) I can now remove mine in seconds.

If you have strained at the job long enough you will likely have distorted the pawls out of shape and the bag may then not go back in easily or at all. I rebend mine to the correct shape and the bag snaps back in place easy as spit.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
My manual shows the same but it means nothing. What one has to grasp is that the bag is located sideways by the steering wheel cutouts (the button packages are in the way) and not located in the same way up, look again at your pics there. My 'there is no pawl' wording was incorrect but I stand by the rest, I got mine out easily. With the bigger tool I made than Nissan calls out for (I measured the pawl notches exactly to come up with the size) I can now remove mine in seconds.

If you have strained at the job long enough you will likely have distorted the pawls out of shape and the bag may then not go back in easily or at all. I rebend mine to the correct shape and the bag snaps back in place easy as spit.
I understand what you mean about the lower pawl being different than the 2 on the side. I will try a larger diameter blunt tool to release the retaining clips. I don't doubt that something is bent inside because the lower section is locked in hard even with the side clips released. I'm wondering if this happened when the airbag was replaced by the dealer during the recall.
Thanks for your help!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Well, the problem is solved! I thought I could release the stuck airbag if I could remove the back cover of the steering wheel. It needs a new steering wheel anyway, because the rubber is loose from the wheel underneath. Bought a new steering wheel for $54 at junk yard and proceeded to (very carefully) cut and break the back cover off the existing steering wheel. This gave me access to the lower pawl, which was indeed VERY stuck. As I thought all along, the upper pawls had been released. The problem was that whomever worked on it before installed a piece of 3/16" rubber and zip tie around the hole that the lower pawl fits into. This prevented the lower pawl from releasing when I pulled up on the airbag. I used needle nose pliers to remove the zip tie and piece of rubber and the airbag immediately released, as designed. See photos below for rubber/zip tie and location on the steering wheel. You can see the adhesive where the rubber adhered to the metal part of the steering wheel.

Does anyone have any idea why the technician would have installed this rubber & zip tie?

Next step is to remove the existing steering wheel and clock spring/spiral cable, install new clock spring, reinstall NEW steering wheel, then airbag, and hopefully be done with this project.
Thanks to everyone for patiently reading about my problem and assisting me with the problem solving!
Happy Thanksgiving!
retaining clip with adhesive.jpg
IMG_4399.jpg
 

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I just looked at the 2 I have sitting in the garage, and both have those on them. I would guess they are put on at the factory.
Why, I do not know.
Hope you got a leather wheel from a SL.
 

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Download that and page 7 step 11, figure 9 is the pic for it. I suspect the Takata airbag was also knocking that clip loose in testing as part of the potential shrapnel to maybe kill somebody.

You guys are aware that if the airbags have been changed to replace Takata ones they may likely still be the exact same Takata ones but simply newer?, the age has something to do with the exploding wrong, age makes the propellant stick or clump together to explode with too much force. I wonder when these 'newer' replacement bags get older if Nissan will be changing them again in a second go-round. I have not heard a word on that one.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thank you @Keith Wagner and @amc49 !!! The information you've shared is very helpful. Keith Wagner, you have 2 steering wheels with the ziptie installed-are you able to install and remove the airbags easily from those steering wheels? (and no, I did not get a leather steering wheel :)).

The airbag recall document shows exactly how to install the rubber tape, aluminum tape and ziptie. Since the ziptie kit is not mentioned in the service manual, I think amc49 is right that it was added as an after market precaution.

So now I have a new dilemma. My airbag would not release from the steering wheel because of that rubber/aluminum tape/ziptie. In the future, the airbag & steering wheel may need to be removed again, for example, to replace a failed clockspring (my reason for doing all of this in the first place). This problem turned what should be a simple process into a long drawn out problem. I'm therefore inclined to install the airbag without the ziptie. I could attempt to replicate the tape/ziptie kit, or try to order one (would they sell it to me?), but then I risk a stuck airbag the next time my clockspring cable fails (which is not an uncommon problem). Not sure what to do.
 

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It could be also that the wrap there was intended to build up to fill the hole so that the bottom bag hook could not blow loose from the clip if the bags were going off to knock bottom of bag assembly loose rather than holding it in place to make most force go out the front of bag to rip the steering cover better. Some bags may have been only partially deploying. Why the upper side airbags get modded on some of the cars too. A bracket there was fouling some of them at inflation to not deploy right.

If you think the wrap was just to retain the clip in place then leave all rubber/aluminum wrapping off and simply plastic wiretie only to the clip through the smaller hole, that would hold the clip too, yet allow bag bottom to come loose much easier.

They don't explain like most manuals don't now, it's only do exactly as we say, they assume now that the techs are not smart enough to go beyond that and why OEM mechs are now among the worst. The companies simply assume they are stupid and do no more than to get the basics done. Time was that all techs were taught WHY they did every little thing and why those guys were so much better than the idiots we now call 'techs' who can't even push or click parts in place to install without breaking things.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
AIRBAG LIGHT STILL FLASHES!!!
Sorry in advance for the long post. I decided to install a thinner rubber and zip tie over the clip, to prevent the clip from flying away during airbag activation. Before putting the rear cover on the steering wheel, I verified several times that I could remove the airbag from the steering wheel.

Installed the new clockspring and reassembled everything:
1. Removed the clockspring.
2. Replaced it with the aftermarket part. The aftermarket clockspring had a piece of plastic locking it in place to prevent it from rotating before and during installation.
3. Reinstalled steering wheel.
4. Connected the airbag to the new clockspring harness and ground wire.
5. Snapped the airbag back into place on the steering wheel.
6. Re-connected battery.
7. Started car and anxiously waited to see if airbag light would stay on or not. It turned off.

Test drive:

1. I tested the turn signals, wipers, cruise control and all worked normally.
2. The horn is unreliable (sometimes works, sometimes doesn't) on the right side, always works on the left. I shined the ground strip on the back of the airbag and also the 2 brass looking points on the back of the steering wheel that appear to be contacts for the horn, but it didn't make any difference.
3. After driving only 4 blocks, the airbag light started flashing again.

Once home I tried to reset the airbag light but it would not turn off. It returned diagnostic code of 1 long, 2 short, which, according to the manual, indicates "malfunctioning driver air bag module circuits". Manual says next steps are:
1. Visually check the wiring harness connection. (Not sure what harness they are talking about. Wires leading from spiral cable? Wires that connect to spiral cable?
2. Replace the harness if it has visible damage.
3. Replace the spiral cable. (done. Could it be defective?)
4. Replace driver air bag module.
5. Replace the air bag diagnosis sensor unit.
6. Replace the related harness.

At this point I'm a bit frustrated. Any thoughts?
Thanks for reading!
 

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I won't cover the horn part yet. Airbag light is the priority.
The airbag wires are the YELLOW connector on the back/bottom of the spiral cable next to the grey one.
Make sure you didn't damage the 2 airbag wires. or the connectors to the airbag.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
I won't cover the horn part yet. Airbag light is the priority.
The airbag wires are the YELLOW connector on the back/bottom of the spiral cable next to the grey one.
Make sure you didn't damage the 2 airbag wires. or the connectors to the airbag.
@Keith Wagner, I assume you mean the yellow and orange connectors as shown in the photo here (photo shows the original spiral cable before replacement). They were easy to connect and I did not force the connectors into the color coded locations. I don't think the leads or connections on the airbag were damaged, but possible I suppose.
IMG_4392.jpg
 

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The other one I am referring to is on the bottom of the spiral cable. There is a Yellow and Grey connector that fit together and plug into the Spiral Cable.
The Grey one is for horn and steering wheel buttons. The Yellow one is for the airbag.

17376
 
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