by William Curran
The metal panel under the steering wheel that covers the steering column has one main failure mode -- the lower plastic tabs (that are part of the dashboard) often break off. This makes it difficult to get the cover to stay in place. There are a couple solutions to this that use common shop parts.
What we're going to do is build an extention to the already-existing metal top tab. You can see in the below picture, little remains of the bottom tab, but that's ok!
The repair itself consists of taking a bit of plumber's tape, or a perforated metal strapping (found at any hardware store) and securing it to the top metal tab, then making a mounting point below to secure the cover using its existing mounting holes.
To start, cut the metal strip to size and drill a hole through the top tab. Exact screw size isn't critical here, just use something that matches your drill bit! Once you have the top secured, look down at the broken tab area -- you may or may not have enough remaining plastic tab to be able to put another screw in this area for further support. Sometimes the tabs are broken so badly there is not enough there to secure the metal strip, but again, that's ok. Now your tabs should look like this:
The next step is to get some U-clips and matching screws for the new bottom "tab." These again are commonly available at your local hardware store. Hold the metal cover in place and mark where you need the clips. If you're lucky, the holes in the cover will line up with the holes in the metal strips. If you're not lucky, carefully drill through the metal strip in the appropriate spot.
Once you have the holes lined up, put the metal U-clips in place. Here's what your new tabs should look like now:
Finally, put the cover back on and secure with screws. It's that easy! Here's the finished product:
One more option to repair this problem is to attach a bolt with a large fender washer to the cover. Line up the washers so that they overlap the broken tab from behind and tighten down the bolts until the washer is tight against the broken tabs from behind. Very simple fix only takes 2 nuts, two bolts, and two fender washers.
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19 September, 2006