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Author Topic: Steering wheel buttons problems - a possible fix  (Read 8155 times)

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Offline TomatoSoup

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Steering wheel buttons problems - a possible fix
« on: September 29, 2010, 07:30:50 PM »
I've had problems with the Resume/Accel button on the steering wheel ever since I got my car. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. If not, I have to hold it down for a while (or pound on it) to get it to be recognized.  The other buttons all work fine.

These switches work by bridging across different points of a resistor ladder, so are sensitive to dirty contacts which can cause added resistance.  I've always assumed this was the issue but never got round to doing anything about it.  But, after seeing the recent thread about taking the steering wheel apart and the switches out, it finally galvanized me into action to clean my cruise switches.  

The switches are simple and easy to get in to.  The PCB (circuit board) inside the switch assembly has a pattern of inter-meshed, gold-plated tracks for each switch position.  There is a molded rubber membrane over top with a small circular gold-plated plate glued-in.  When you press the button it pushes the rubber and plate down onto the PCB to short across the meshed tracks.  Very similar to most TV remote control keypads.

So anyway, I removed and dismantled the switch and took a look.  All the contacts looked fine and clean and shiny, but I wiped them down with rubbing alcohol and a microfiber cloth, put it back together and after test driving, it now works fine again!   :yay:

Took about 20mins tops - so far easier and quicker than taking it in to the dealer to have them futz about it. If you're having problems with any of the cruise, DIC or radio pushbuttons, try this first.
"That is my theory, it is mine, and belongs to me and I own it, and what it is too." (Monty Python)

Offline DeepBlueGXP

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Re: Steering wheel buttons problems - a possible fix
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2010, 08:37:55 PM »
How did you get it apart and :ttiwwp:

Offline TomatoSoup

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Re: Steering wheel buttons problems - a possible fix
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2010, 10:25:41 PM »
How did you get it apart and :ttiwwp:
Yeah.  Didn't take any pics :shame:

Took the switches out using a combination of yours & other's posts about removing the airbag.  Then just pried the back off the switches and everything falls out.  Easier done than said really.  More detail as follows:

FIRST, either disconnect the battery, or remove the airbag fuses, and wait 5 minutes before proceeding.  An airbag in the face can ruin your whole day.

OK, so this may be easier to understand if you can visualize how the airbag is attached. The airbag has two hard cylindrical posts at the back, that fit through circular cut-outs in a plate attached to the wheel hub. There are two thick spring wires running vertically down the back of this plate, which engage in slots in the posts and hold them, and hence the airbag, in place. See picture below.

There are two small holes, one one either side of the rear of the steering wheel hub that allow access to these spring/catches.  First get the steering wheel roughly level (i.e. wheels straight ahead). Then take an electrical screwdriver or similar, and insert it into one side hole with the blade horizontal - in line with the steering column.  Prod & feel around inside the hub until you feel the post on that side and then move your prodder just below the post and again feel around until you find something springy, this will be the spring wire.  Push against the wire  to move it back away and out of the slot in the post. You don't need a great deal of pressure - it's not a very stiff spring - so if you feel too much resistance you're not in the right place.  Pull on the front of the airbag on that side as you push against the spring and it will release and come out a little way (still held by the other side post & spring wire).  Stick a folded-up paper napkin in the gap to hold it open and repeat with the prodding on the other side to release the second post.

Once both sides are released, you can move the airbag out of the way. You do not have to disconnect it, just move it out the way without pulling to hard on the wires.  Then you can see a Torx-head screw on the inside of each switch assembly.  Remove the screw for the side you want to fix, and the switch assembly will pull out.  Disconnect the wire connector.

If you look at the switch from the back, with the buttons away from you, you will see that the back plate is held in with little tabs.  Just pry at them gently with your electrical screwdriver and you can pop the back plate off.  Once it's off, the PCB and then the rubber membrane can just be lifted out and cleaned.

UPDATE: Grabbed a bare steering wheel photo off an ICS eBay listing, updated with notes to help with the above:

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« Last Edit: September 30, 2010, 12:40:11 PM by TomatoSoup »
"That is my theory, it is mine, and belongs to me and I own it, and what it is too." (Monty Python)

Offline old goat

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Re: Steering wheel buttons problems - a possible fix
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2010, 07:37:26 AM »
Clean contacts with a pink pearl eraser, NOT a pencil eraser they are far to abrassive, kind of scarey they taught me this in electronics school.

Offline TomatoSoup

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Re: Steering wheel buttons problems - a possible fix
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2010, 09:26:09 AM »
YOU
Clean contacts with a pink pearl eraser, NOT a pencil eraser they are far to abrassive, kind of scarey they taught me this in electronics school.
Wait, YOU wrote this post?  Not GJ? :lol:
"That is my theory, it is mine, and belongs to me and I own it, and what it is too." (Monty Python)

Offline Sol Asylum

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Re: Steering wheel buttons problems - a possible fix
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2010, 01:42:44 PM »
Trust me you don't want to see GJ's pink pearl.
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Offline 1LILNDN

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Re: Steering wheel buttons problems - a possible fix
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2010, 10:28:24 PM »
Trust me you don't want to see GJ's pink pearl.

 SA ;   Is that from personal Experience or are You Guessing ?     We    :idk:    :rofl:  mao     :poke:
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Offline NormSky

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Re: Steering wheel buttons problems - a possible fix
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2010, 12:35:07 AM »
Probably has a pink pearl pool cue.  :)


My buttons are vague but that might be how they operate. Not very precise but will take a look the next time I disconnect the battery.
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Offline Sol Asylum

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Re: Steering wheel buttons problems - a possible fix
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2010, 01:07:17 AM »
SA ;   Is that from personal Experience or are You Guessing ?     We    :idk:    :rofl:  mao     :poke:
Critter told me and I'm gonna trust him.
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Offline SHiNY

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Re: Steering wheel buttons problems - a possible fix
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2010, 05:49:01 AM »
YOUWait, YOU wrote this post?  Not GJ? :lol:

It's true! My Dad is a physicist and told me the same thing.

Offline Critterman

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Re: Steering wheel buttons problems - a possible fix
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2010, 08:47:27 AM »
SA - I was going by the intimate picture you sent me of you and GJ on your 'date' in Chicago
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Offline TomatoSoup

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Re: Steering wheel buttons problems - a possible fix
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2010, 09:34:20 PM »
My buttons are vague but that might be how they operate. Not very precise but will take a look the next time I disconnect the battery.
It probably is this problem then.  Mine (now) have very definite effect when pressed.
"That is my theory, it is mine, and belongs to me and I own it, and what it is too." (Monty Python)

Offline NormSky

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Re: Steering wheel buttons problems - a possible fix
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2010, 12:44:01 PM »
That worked great! Alway like being your grasshopper.  :)

I dabbed some RTV silicone to take up some of the slack in the buttons. But the depth to get the contact is too long and deep. I guess they do that because when using the steering wheel in turns some drivers might accident hit the buttons and change the radio or worse engage the cruise control.  Got any recommendations on decreasing the distance to dedent?

The membrane for each button peaks in resistance at about half distance and they look like membrane around each contact drops evenly to make contact with the board.
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Offline Sol Asylum

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Re: Steering wheel buttons problems - a possible fix
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2010, 03:19:45 PM »
SA - I was going by the intimate picture you sent me of you and GJ on your 'date' in Chicago

I guess I forgot about that picture.

GJ should we tell them about your string of pink pearls?  They were getting you all kinds of looks.
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Offline Gentleman Jack

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Re: Steering wheel buttons problems - a possible fix
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2010, 06:44:22 PM »
I guess I forgot about that picture.

GJ should we tell them about your string of pink pearls?  They were getting you all kinds of looks.

I plan on wearing them when Critter picks me up at the airport....
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Offline Critterman

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Re: Steering wheel buttons problems - a possible fix
« Reply #15 on: October 03, 2010, 04:59:06 PM »
Bring your skateboard!  I will have a tow rope ready for your.   Guess you better use a backpack as well
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Offline WWI Flying Ace

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Re: Steering wheel buttons problems - a possible fix
« Reply #16 on: February 22, 2012, 01:50:30 PM »
I have the same issue with my resume/accel button...was thinking about just replacing the cruise switch for cheap, but a free fix is even better.  TomatoSoup, is your fix still working?

Offline TomatoSoup

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Re: Steering wheel buttons problems - a possible fix
« Reply #17 on: February 22, 2012, 10:15:19 PM »
Yep. Has worked fine ever since.
"That is my theory, it is mine, and belongs to me and I own it, and what it is too." (Monty Python)

Offline Goat67

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Re: Steering wheel buttons problems - a possible fix
« Reply #18 on: February 22, 2012, 10:46:20 PM »
I have experienced the same problems with the resume/accel button on my wheel. My local dealer will warranty the repair 100%. We seem to disagree on the operation of the cruise controls for my car so I have not taken it in for repair yet. I know in my 2008 base solstice and in my 2009 chevy silverado the controls work the same in that; When the cruise is set (say 65mph) and the driver speeds up using the gas pedal (to say 75mph) and presses the set button, the cruise control will then hold the new set speed ( in this case 75mph) My 2009 GXP will not do this. The control has to be shut off either by brake pedal or master switch on wheel and then reengaged for it to pick up the new speed setting. My dealer tells me that's the way it works on my model. I find this hard to believe when all my other gm products work the other way. HOW is this really supposed to work?

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Re: Steering wheel buttons problems - a possible fix
« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2012, 08:45:49 AM »
Every car I have with cruise will accept a new speed when one has been set by either accelerating to the new speed and tapping the set button or pressing and holding the resume/accl button until you get to the new speed.
GONE: (but not forgotten) 2006 Cool named BIXABEL (BISH-AH-BEL) Mayan for "Good Roads"

DDM
StageIII intercooled Supercharger, Wisco ceramic coated pistons, Carrillo rods, superTech valves and Springs
Ported and polished head
Exedy Stage II Clutch
big brake kit, slotted/drilled Rotors w/Porterfield pads & blue juice
Backbone, Probeam, Cross Strut Brace
Underhood, trunk, & door Lights
ZOK suspension

JPM
Center console, door inserts, & dash
Seat bolster & lumbar support

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Offline Sly Bob

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Re: Steering wheel buttons problems - a possible fix
« Reply #20 on: October 20, 2018, 01:03:33 PM »
Steering wheel buttons for the cruise control on my wife's Malibu stopped working and they are the same as the Solstice buttons. I know what I'm doing tomorrow.
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