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VERY frustrating air bag removal issue - please help


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I've got an inoperable horn that I think may be the bushing and the ring that holds the air bag in place. I ordered the part and it arrived. I found the various DIY on the forums and got my T30 torx ready. Alas, the bit adapter was too fat, and the torx bit too short to get to the screw, so I had to order a torx screwdriver. Darn! It was too long, so I ordered the goldie locks bit length of 3 1/2 inches and it is just right.

Anyway, one of the screws came loose right away. Yes, the loctite was in place, but it turned with a little effort and it was no problem. However, the screw on the other side is not being as cooperative. The bit can't seem to find purchase on the screw head. It feels like it is in there, but it doesn't offer strong resistance. Further turning of the bit doesn't reveal any loosening of the air bag unit on that side. Through the bit adapter and ratchet, it is hard to "feel" if anything is slipping inside and stripping. The bit comes out clean, so it doesn't appear that the head is being stripped. Again, I'm not 100% sure that the bit is even landing on the head.

I put a 4mm hex in there for giggles, and it seems to bite on something, and offers pretty decent resistance, but I'm afraid to push to hard, for fear of stripping the t30 head, or the fact that it may not even be biting on the screw head anyway.

Any other advice here? Anyone with a lot of experience up for a challenge? I can bring the car to you (I'm in Northern California). This is so frustrating. What should be a 30 minute job is going on and on.

As a last piece, IF the screw head is stripped, what are my options? I can't even see in the bugger to evaluate.

Thanks for your help!

PS-It should be noted that this is the 4 spoke wheel, not 3 spoke, if that matters.

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If it doesn't offer any resistance, is it possible that the screw head itself is not stripped, but rather the threads inside which it screws are damaged?

If that's the case, you may be able to get it to unscrew by applying some pulling pressure on the housing as you turn the fastener counterclockwise. Put some sort of lever in between the steering wheel hub and the airbag housing and apply some pressure so that the parts are being pulled away from each other, and then turn the fastener CCW.

Regards, Maurice.

Edited by 1schoir
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This may sound crazy, but try tightening ever so slightly and then loosen. Sometimes tightening breaks the hold/loctite/stretch and then you can loosen. Only do this is if you are CERTAIN the bit is the right size and is fully seated in the fastener. There is also risk of stripping or breaking the bolt if it is already too tight. It sounds though like you are in a situation where you need the right tool.

I noticed on my car it took considerable force to snap one of the bolts free, and it made a noticeable pop when the bolt freed. The plastic keys I have felt and looked like they were on the verge of breaking, but it has always done this job for me (about 6 times). I've dismantled the tool I have for another purpose and lost some of the hardware to keep it together, so unfortunately my "official tool" is otherwise broken and needs repair.

This is the tool I've used (or similar, with keys that are long enough):

http://www.harborfreight.com/7-pc-star-tamper-proof-key-set-97471.html

You can use the steering wheel to counter the force.

Also you can fit a cheater bar over the tool if you need to (big long section of PVC).

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I also had one side not too bad and the other side extremely difficult (also on 4-spoke wheel). Tightening a bit is a good tip. Mine too a LOT of force. Quite frustrating, but eventually got it loose. Good luck.

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Thanks for the responses, but I've thrown in the the towel. I just couldn't get anything to bite enough when I turned the wrench, so I didn't want to damage further.

If anyone knows a good indy in NorCal that is willing to tackle something like this, please let me know. My guess is that with the right tools and know how, it is a 5 minute job (to loosen the screw).

Thanks again for everyone's input.

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I'm in the wrong part of the world for you, and Northern Cal is a pretty broad area (I lived in Dunsmuir for a while, but didn't pick up much other geography). Isn't The Racers Group out there somewhere? I've had great luck with "race" shops, even on street cars. Goldcrest outside of Atlanta helped me get out a stripped oil drain plug (I tried all the tricks). They did it with out batting an eye, all for the price of an oil change. I've heard good things about TRG, but have no experience with them. Don't know how far they are, but I'd try a race shop over a dealer. Good luck. (My sons sitting across from me and reminded me that that airbag screw was "satan").

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Thanks, good suggestions. Since the car is new to, and this was the first job I tackled, I don't have a shop that I've worked with before.

Satan, yeah. I'd chosen, and used, some other names, so I'll add that one to the list.

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