Replaced Steering Rack Now Airbag Light Illuminated

I replaced the rack in my '99 Ford Taurus and like a bonehead forgot the part in the manual about not allowing the steering wheel to rotate while the rack was not attached to the steering knuckles on the
steering shaft (I had rotated the wheel to get the through-bolt to line up after I got the rack all bolted up).
Anyway, now the airbag warning light flashes after startup and remains on while the car is driven. I know something got out of whack as now the cruise control doesn't work and neither does the horn.
What will it take to fix this problem? I have access to several same- year cars at the local junkyard. I imagine that something in the steering column will need to be replaced.
I feel foolish for letting this happen and my only excuse is that I was exhausted after pulling the old rack and installing the new one. I've been wrenching on cars for many years and I can say that pulling the rack and replacing it was the worst job I can remember.
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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On Mon, 7 Jan 2008 14:55:37 -0800 (PST), Weldman

What you describe is a classic symptom of clock spring damage for the airbag. The last time I screwed myself on this item cost me $238 at the dealer. That would be about 15 years ago. If I remember correctly, that is almost exactly the same as the labor quote for them to have replaced the right in the first place.
Lugnut
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I contacted two dealers about replacing the rack and the cost was $775 from one and $800 from the other.
So what is the "clock spring" and how does one go about replacing a broken one with a good one?
Thanks!
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OK....did some searching and it looks like I need to get another clock spring and replace the one that is in the Taurus with a good one.
Where can I find a step-by-step description of what it involves to change it out?
Thanks.
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Since it involves removing and replacing the air bag, and you seem to be a novice......I'd suggest you take it to the dealer.
Ed
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I'm hardly a novice. I've been working on cars/trucks for over 20 years, but never had to deal with one with a clock spring issue. Most of my cars/trucks are older. If I didn't feel capable of performing the job, I wouldn't have asked.
So getting back to the question, where can I find a step by step procedure for this operation?
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On Tue, 8 Jan 2008 15:44:18 -0800 (PST), Weldman

Disconnect the electrics (both battery cables off for at least 2 minutes) Then remove the steering wheel: remove 5 retaining screws fro upper and lower steering column shroud Rotate steering wheel to remove 2 air bag retaining bolts Carefully disconnect air bag connector from sliding connector. Carefully remove air bag and place TRIM SIDE UP on bench.
Unbolt sterring wheel from column and pop it off. Reccomend use of steering wheel puller.
Release the 3 "snap tabs" holding the clock spring (also called the air bag sliding contact) to the multifunction switch and carefully disconnect the associated wires. It is a good idea to tape the rotor and stator together to prevent damage when removing/installing
Make sure you have steering pointed straight ahead when performing this procedure.
Reverse procedure to assemble.
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Thanks!
Seems like I remember reading that some Torx bits are needed for removing the steering wheel, etc. Is that correct? Any idea of what sizes I should take to the junkyard with me?
What do I need to know about resetting any airbag codes, or is the system self-resetting once the battery is hooked back up?
When you say to place the airbag "trim side up" does that mean to position it as it sits in the car on the bench, or? Sorry for the confusion.
On Jan 8, 8:45 pm, clare at snyder.on.ca wrote:

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on the bench, just for safe storage.
I caught this late, how much did you turn the wheel when it was disconnected? Just curious...
When all is well it will reset itself (does a self test right after the key is turned on)
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I believe it got turned one turn from the "center" while I was trying to get the coupler back on the rack under the dash. I'm going to try to go to the pull a part and get another clock spring from one of the '99 Tauruses that they have over the weekend I hope
Any suggestions about the needed sizes of Torx bits?
Thanks for the help!

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why not just pull the old one first then you would know exactly what tools you need.

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I was going to go to the pull a part fist so that I have the part in hand before I take my Taurus (DD) apart to replace the clockspring. It's a daily driver for the girlfriend.
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Ya, you could just pull the steering wheel and see what it takes to remove the clck spring then just put it back on for her.....
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On Mon, 7 Jan 2008 14:55:37 -0800 (PST), Weldman

You bust the "hair spring"
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