Steering Coupler - how to change one

Discussion in 'Mech Tech' started by Moons, May 30, 2013.

  1. Moons

    Moons Moderator

    I sorted mine on the weekend and thought I'd share how I did it (appreciate there are more knowledgeable people out there, so think of this as a hard ish lessons learnt).

    1st Point - you can theoretically do this without needing to move the steering column - from my experience that's extremely fiddly and nigh on impossible for vans up to 74 (I think) that have the plastic clamp above the steel cover at the base of the column (unless you are happy to snap it that is). I chose to lift the steering column. It was finding no how to's anywhere that has inspired me to put this one up. Also note, some pictures are out of sequence because I took them on the re-assambly, but the narrative and point of the pics is accurate, and I haven't gone in to removing the horn push and horn assembly as that is documented elsewhere.

    Step 1
    Remove the steering wheel - I used a hub puller (£20 off of ebay) as smacking the steering wheel chips it and damages the coupler - I also tried the boiling water/icespray/smack with mallet - none of which worked.


    To make life easier - disconnect the battery and remove the column switches by undoing these two screws (if one is really tight, loosen the other first, it seems to loosen off the second), unsure how this is done on later switchgear btw.


    Loosen the steering wheel nut (27mm) and tuck the horn cable in the hole in the column out of the way.


    Mark on the column and on the steering wheel with a marker pen where the wheel fitted, before removing it - this will help when you put it back on!

    Take the wheel off, but keep in near as you'll need it later.

    Remove the baseplate - two screws.


    Put the keys in the ignition barrel and turn out of the lock position - this is v. important - so one click clockwise with the keys (if you don't you won't be able to move the steering column tube).

    Near the top of the column tube (the black pipe the steering column runs through) there is a circlip (approx 1.5 inch diameter, so its a big one) - remove this with needle nose pliers or circlip pliers if you have them - the circlip is not in the picture - but it sits in the steel cup at the top of the mounting that connects to the dashboard, not at the very top of the column tube.


    Spray some Mr Sheen (or similar) on the column tube just under the mounting to the dash - there is a rubber bushing here that the polish will help the column slide through.

    Lift the column tube an inch and a half ish.

    At the base, disconnect the earth cable that mounts at the base of the steel cover - I used an old car mirror to reflect up into the cover - you can see the cable in brown and the spade connector - this needs to be disconnected. (when you come to reconnect this, a mirror helps! Also, I'd go under the van and pull this cable out of the steel hoop that holds it to the body to make reconnecting easier, make sure the cable runs through both the hoop under the floor, and the hoop built in to the cover - just visible in the right of the picture).


    Viola - you can now see the coupler - in the following pics its the new one as as stated above I took the pics on reassembly.

    Undo the bolts - this is easily done on your own laying on the ground, one hand inside the van, one hand underneath.


    As you can see, at any one time two bolts are easy to get at, two less so - a tip, leave the bolts in situ (having removed the nuts) having reached them, then pull the column tube down, put the steering wheel back on and rotate the steering until the two remaining ones are reachable - then you can simply pull the bolts all out in one go.

    As you take one coupler out, and put the new one in, make a note of this wire's location - it's the other half of the horn circuit - not a great pic but basically you have a wire with a hoop connector, this needs to be locked placed between the coupler and the mounting at the top of the steering box, else your horn wont work! (it's the brass hoop in the picture)


    I used new bolts and nyloc nuts - I'd have threadlocked the standard nuts otherwise - the bolts are M8 around 45mm in length.

    Reassembly - basically reverse the above - things to be careful of - make sure the steering tube is aligned with steering lock or your column switches will be at an angle and your steering lock won't work. Take a bit of time getting the steering wheel in the right place - on the marking you did earlier - and make sure the column switches are close to the base of the steering wheel else the indicator self cancelling wont work!

    Final word - my steering coupler (on the left) passed its MOT like this. I believe the main damage in terms of cracking comes from my ape like antics trying to remove the wheel last summer - before I got the puller. Use VW stamped replacements, always as cheapo ones are crap from what I have read!

    EggBoxes, yorkieman, Poptop2 and 3 others like this.
  2. Interesting :).
    Later versions have two 5mm spacer washers under the column flange to allow the coupling to remain flat when installed, a fiddle to keep them in place when dropping the bolts through.
  3. Moons

    Moons Moderator

    Yep - there seems to be some variation in the design, that's why I struggled, none of the other guides seemed the same as mine.

    Am wondering if it doesn't nee the spacer as the plastic clamp in the cover takes the tube weight?
  4. Going from creaking memory I understood that the plastic clamp dissapeared about the time the horn wiring was rejigged, it having served as both an insulator and restraint between the tube and body.
  5. Moons

    Moons Moderator

    It served mostly as a pain in the arse on mine.
  6. Nice pics :)

    Worth noting that if you've got a late Late, there's no need to remove the wheel. You can undo the floorplate screws and just lift the round cover up. There's no clampy plastic insulator or cable attached to it, just a simple grounding wire across the coupler bolts.

    You can attack it from above or below (or both).
    Raposino likes this.
  7. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    Nice one Moons - karma for a good how to! :thumbsup:
  8. Moons

    Moons Moderator

    Fighting on two fronts didn't work for Hitler and it might not work for you!!!

    Joking aside - there were some good how to's on later bays with that baseplate - none for ones like mine where the plastic clamp in a bum pain.
  9. The plastic thing will indeed be a pain...:(

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