Question about 2005 Chevrolet Tahoe

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Several of the lights for the radio/cruise control buttons on the steering wheel of my 2005 Tahoe are out. Also the rear overhead bar breaklight is out and one of the lights for the defroster button is out. How can I replace these?

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The lighted control switches (about $30/ea retail) on the steering wheel of the 2005 Chevy Silverado 1500 LT (Crew Cab) come out the front, and can be pulled out with pliers or pried out with a very small flat blade screwdriver. However, you CANNOT put them back in without removing the steering wheel, as the wiring harness does not have enough slack to allow you to plug the new switches back in. You can have your local Chevy dealer do the work for probably around $100.00 labor, or you can do it yourself in about 30 minutes or so. Here's how, if you're semi-mechanically inclined.

Tackle this at your own risk, if you're not comfortable doing it, then have a certified mechanic or dealer do it for you! Your setup/assembly may differ from mine, and if so, you'll need to adjust your approach based upon your vehicle. This is what I found as I did mine.

DANGER! First and MOST IMPORTANT, you MUST take the fuse out for the Air Bag. Under the hood, in the fuse panel/box, you will find a 15amp fuse for the Air Bag, clearly labeled on the diagram under the lid of the cover. Simply pull it out and set it aside before you start. If you are not certain which one, then unhook the battery before you start. You DO NOT want to have an "accident" with the Air Bag with tools in your hands! Once you have the fuse removed (or the battery disconnected)...

REMOVE THE AIR BAG assembly from the steering wheel. On each side of the housing behind (but on) the steering wheel housing, you will find two small holes. One is on the left; one is on the right near/behind/below the ignition key housing. Using a small Allen Wrench (or small blunt object) about 2 to 3 inches long, push it into the hole on the right and press straight in, while gently lifting (or pulling) on the Air Bag housing [The Air Bag housing is the same thing you press for the horn]. You will feel it pop loose (on the right side), but it won't move much. While holding the Air Bag assembly out on the right side, move the Allen Wrench into the hole on the left side and press in. The Air Bag assembly will pop loose completely and you can then GENTLY pull it forward. The two plugs with wires on the back side of the Air Bag assembly can be removed by gently squeezing the clips with your fingers and pulling out. It should take very little effort. They are color coded (pink and white) so you'll know which one goes where when you are ready to put them back. Gently place the Air Bag assembly face up in a safe, dry place, away from anything! Next...

REMOVE THE STEERING WHEEL from the column. Sounds scary, but it's really simple. You can rent/use a steering wheel puller if you like, but I simply pulled mine off the spindle with some firm, controlled effort. Using a 13/16" socket with an extension, make a mental note of where the notch/mark is on the nut, so you can return it to its original position. Also, ensure the steering wheel (and wheels/tires) are straight forward, so when you put it back, it's level when you drive. Now, using the socket, loosen (but do not remove) the center nut. Count the number of full turns you use as you remove it. Leave it on just enough so when you pull the steering wheel loose, it won't fly off in your hands and break the wires. Gently (but firmly) with your hands at 3:00 and 9:00 on the wheel, pull and rock the steering wheel. Then do the same with your hands at 12:00 and 6:00. If you're not comfortable doing it this way, use a steering wheel puller. You can rent one from a local auto parts store for probably less than $20.00. When it is pulled loose, you can then finish removing the center nut (count the full turns). FIRST, you'll need to unplug and pull out the white plug with the two red wires. It simply pulls out. Pull gently on the wires (they are spring loaded) and pull the plug out. Also, unplug the black wiring harness that's clipped together. Then, remove the steering wheel and GENTLY guide the wires through the hole so as not to damage them. Especially the Air Bag connectors! Next...

REPLACE THE CONTROLS/SWITCHES by freeing up some slack on the wiring harness. Turn the steering wheel over and with a Torx head screwdriver, remove the two black screws holding the housing on. With the housing removed, you can push (with the help of a small screwdriver) the rubber plug that holds the black wiring harness clip to the base. Just push it through. Manually work with the wires now so you have plenty of slack to pull the old Control Switches out and plug the new ones in. The wires/harness are placed around little bumps/guides to help hold them in place, so take a mental note of how they are routed so you can put them back like they are and not damage them upon reinstallation. Using a small screwdriver or needle nose pliers (I used a set of flat ended nock pliers), remove the Control Switches (they pull out the front) and disconnect the wires/plugs. Plug in your new Control Switches and then push them back down into the steering wheel slots while guiding the wires as necessary from the back. Turn the steering wheel back over and put/route the wires back where they go, and then turn it back over and snap the rubber plug back into place to hold the black wiring harness in place. You are now ready to put it all back together. Really easy so far, huh? Next...

REINSTALL THE STEERING WHEEL. Put the housing back on the back of the steering wheel with the two Torx head screws. Then put the steering wheel back on. GENTLY route the plugs back through the holes as before, ensure the steering wheel is straight up and down, and push it firmly back on the spindle. Plug the black wiring harness clips back together and push the white plug back into its place. It snaps in with the little notches facing north and south (and least on my truck). Put the steering wheel column nut back on and tighten it back down, ensuring you align the notch/mark on the nut back where it was before using the same number of full turns it took to take it off. Don't over or under tighten! Next...

TEST THE NEW CONTROLS. Before you start messing around with the Air Bag, this is a good point to check your work. (You may need to reconnect your battery here if you disconnected it to start). Put the key in and using your controls (like the running/fog light button), ensure the new switch/control buttons light up. Also check and ensure all of the controls/buttons properly work everything (radio, trip meter, vehicle settings, OnStar, etc..) as before. If you didn't damage the wiring harness and have everything plugged back in well, it all should work as before. If something does not work, double check your work here as necessary until you get it right. Once everything in working...

REPLACE THE AIR BAG. First, disconnect the Battery again if you have reconnected it to test your work. Gently take the Air Bag Assembly and plug the wires/clips back in (gently) into their original (color coded) holes on the back of the Air Bag. Then align the metal posts with the holes in the steering wheel and press it back into place. It gently snaps in with ease. Next...

Replace the Air Bag 15amp fuse and put the fuse box cover back into place (if you removed it), or reconnect your battery. Close the hood and test the horn. Put your tools away. You are done! Simple huh?

Posted on Jan 14, 2011


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